Celebrating Nebraska Immigrants: From Refugee Camp to Nebraska Nurse

This blog is written by Nebraska Appleseed summer intern Vivian P. Alvarado.

Haeler Paw, or as she prefers to be called Hae Paw, is originally from a refugee camp in Thailand. She immigrated to the United States in June, 2012. Because Haw Paw already had some siblings living in Nebraska she decided to relocate close to her family.  Hae Paw was welcomed by a social worker with Lutheran Family Services when she arrived at the airport in Nebraska. Not only did the social worker welcome her, she also worked with Hae Paw for months to help facilitate her adaptation to the new culture and language. 

Hae Paw has family here to help maintain customs and traditions. One of the most important holidays Hae Paw celebrates with family, friends and the Nebraska community is the Karen New Year. This event is hosted every year at Lincoln High School where anyone is welcome to celebrate with them and enjoy beautiful Karen dances and food. 

The Wrist Tie Ceremony is another important celebration with friends and family. Everyone participating ties one white and one red thread on their wrist to signify the previous generations’ spirits will remain with them. Hae Paw is proud to share her culture and heritage with the community and she does this by speaking her language everyday, sharing dance, history and wearing traditional clothes to events. 

Hae Paw is obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Nebraska and looks forward to becoming a nurse. 

She is very proud of continuing her education here in the U.S., especially considering that it wasn’t too long ago that she was just beginning to learn English. She said she had to “get out of my comfort zone and overcome my struggles” to be where she is now. She loves to be part of a diverse community where groups like the Karen Parents Program at the high school she attended work together to build a positive future for the next generation.

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