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June 06, 2023

Choosing courage in the face of new challenges, this former teen refugee doesn’t let obstacles stop her from shining

Rojina Rai’s illustrated story, “I Choose to be Courageous,” is a featured selection from USA for UNHCR's annual Refugee Storyteller Celebration, an opportunity for former refugees under the age of 30 who are now living in the United States to share their courageous journeys, passions and inspirations.

Seventeen-year-old Rojina Rai was born in a refugee camp in Nepal after her family was forced to flee persecution in Bhutan. Now a high school student living in Ohio, Rojina is finding strength from her personal journey to overcome challenges in her new community after being resettled to the United States. Inspired by stories passed down from her grandmother, Rojina is now sharing her story to inspire other young people. 

“I’ve gone through different types of challenges but I’ve overcome them instead of letting them stop me from shining,” Rojina writes in I Choose to be Courageous. Read more excerpts from Rojina’s illustrated story and get inspired by her strength and creativity. 

“I Choose to be Courageous” by Rojina Rai 

I’m Rojina Rai. I was born and raised in Nepal (a small Asian country located between India and China). Nepal is a beautiful country, and it is where I call home. Mount Everest is found in Nepal, and Gautam Buddha was born there… 

I grew up with my mom and friends. My mom has always been there for me, as I grew she was always there guiding me to the next step.

I started staying after school for cross country…It’s known as one of the most challenging sports to master. My first cross country season was really difficult, but all of my hard work taught me to have faith in myself.

Agriculture is something I enjoy doing, and growing plants has always been a part of my life since I used to work on a farm in Nepal, where I constantly assisted my Auntie and Uncle in planting crops. 

Our Aiken High School Agriculture has 35 beds of tomato, chili, potato, watermelon, eggplant, and a variety of other vegetables.

I was invited to Ohio State University to learn more about agriculture and how to grow food. I learned new plant growing skills. I had no idea there were so many other careers in agriculture besides working in the garden.

I [was] invited to make a presentation at the Agri-Science Youth Summit in Washington, DC. It was very exciting to know that people are noticing what I do.

I am a unique breed.

I’ve gone through different types of challenges but I’ve overcome them instead of letting them stop me from shining.

How you can help…

Want to help more refugees like Rojina find safety and a chance to rebuild? USA for UNHCR supports the full journey of refugees. Our donors help refugees in their greatest time of need and support resettled refugees living in the U.S. With your help, more refugees will have the opportunity to build a peaceful life and have a chance for a brighter future.