OBCA Convention: Looking back and forth

Published on Jun 23 2010 // Opinion
By T. P. Mishra

Though not prescheduled, I headed to Atlanta to blog live about the first nation convention of the Organization of Bhutanese Communities in America (OBCA) from June 18-19. A never practiced trend, Bhutan News Service (BNS) finally reported the event live, though it was from mobile due to lack of internet connection in the convention venue.

As hundreds of Diasporic eyes were closely monitoring and observing the event, in whatsoever ways, I thought, for sure, it was the responsibility of media person to disseminate information. As the live blogging was from mobile, we failed to update about the event in detail. Here is a short report-like analysis piece.

When I along with our North Carolian correspondent, Abi Subedi, reached the venue hall, we noticed the floor discussing By-Laws of the newly formed OBCA. Though the convention actually began at 6.30 pm, according to the organizers, we reached there almost at 7.50 pm on the first day. Bhakti Sharma, the Chief Coordinator of the first national convention along with DJ Khaling were seen busy presenting the By-Laws whereas the floor quite often hammered bulks of questions in connection to their By-Laws. Most of such questions were answered; some of them, however, were kept in pending citing that the convention was running out of time and that they would continue the discussion the following day.

Ground voices for “unity” and a “single platform,” which so ever be formed, was repeatedly reflected. This was quite an attention seeking opinion from public, though it is yet to be seen how newly elected emerging young leaders interpret it and transform it into practice.

According to their By-Laws, the objectives of OBCA are;
– To communicate and advocate for necessary support and assistance to the Bhutanese community, especially during the resettlement phase, to preserve and promote Bhutanese tradition and culture, social norms and values.
– To establish and maintain its own Community Centers in the states where Bhutanese reside.
-To promote and extend mutual help and cooperation among the community members.
-To facilitate and enable community members have an easy access to different services, jobs and other opportunities.
-To facilitate and enable the community members transform themselves easily into the mainstream society.
-To solicit, receive and manage funds, gifts, charities and donations in support of OBCA’s purpose.
-To coordinate and launch educational, health, charitable and other noteworthy humanitarian programs in the community in all the states.
-To encourage and acknowledge civic engagement among the Bhutanese community through factors influencing connection with civic engagement opportunities.
-To establish community media and develop strong social networking tools for the Bhutanese community.
-To keep the Bhutanese community articulated and informed about changes and developments taking place within the community, in Bhutan and the world at large.
-To cooperate and collaborate with organizations in regional and international level on matters of common cause and objectives.

From the management point of view, the Georgian event-organizers had actually failed in several aspects to manage all necessary arrangements for the program. In one way or the other, participants who had walked all the way from long distance including from the Alaska, among others were not that happy in regard to the management.
Talking briefly with the BNS representative in the convention venue, the Alaskan team complained that despite their repeated requests, the organizers didn’t spare them some minutes to listen to their feelings. Though it was difficult to verify such progress immediately, the newly elected chairs were seen busy discussing with Alaskan team—the outcome of which was later reported to be good.

At some point, the second day convention is worth mentioning and more significant as it was a day for election. The second day sessions, said to begin from 6.30 am on June 19, actually began only at 9.45 am. Our old-tradition of not being very punctual to time was clearly reflected. A clear majority of the organizing committee members, who stepped in and out of the convention hall, were seen having involved in campaigning for leadership of their “choice”.

Interestingly, the unpunctuality in managing time appropriately had led the organizers to see only around 55, almost half of the population seen on first day, participants during the time of election, which was through consensus basis. It was reportedly learnt that the OBCA had scheduled to present cultural shows after the election. However, as the organizers were late to wrap-up their program, more than half-filled floor of the hall with the capacity of 500 was rocked with cultural shows at a time when around 55 people were busy holding election in another hall, nearly-attached to one another.

The election result evidently shows that our younger generation is emerging to take a lead role to serve the community. However, the fact that the contribution and guidance of experts, experienced and older generation community leaders that stands unavoidable, should not be undermined in any sense. Youth’s single effort, for sure, is not very stronger until we learn to be guided by seniors from within the community. As we are in transitional phase, the need to have collective leadership is yet another significant demand of the time. This demand in one sense will largely contribute for “unity” of the community.

According to organizer of the event, representatives from at least 17 different States from within the USA took active participation. Though some of the representatives were present on the event as observer, the way those many states showed their “mandated” participation is one of the greatest achievements the convention made.

Participant’s collective decision to go for “consensus basis” election is yet another attainment. Yet, this is not all about what has been the demand of time. More than a clear majority of Bhutanese are voicing for a single platform, united move, and stronger intactness of the community.

The challenge
Days after the convention of the OBCA, Bhutanese will soon see another convention of the Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) slated from July 2-4 in the same venue. If both of these organizations continue to compete with one another, it is sure one might win the game; yet community as a whole will lose it though. Public don’t want to live in a divided society. Now the challenge being shouldered by both the organizations is to work for “unity”.