Hari Kumar Dahal had just set down a couple of copies ofConnecting Cleveland on a counter in Everest Grocery, one of his advertisers, when a trio of customers walked into the Lakewood store.
“K Chha?”–How are you?–a smiling young man called out to him. He recognized Dahal not as a friend or a classmate but as the publisher of the newspaper covering his community, newly arrived families from Nepal.
Dahal had recently printed one of the young man’s poems–a poem about the refugee experience– and the pair tapped palms in greeting. It was another connection fostered by that most enduring of Cleveland media–the ethnic press.
Dahal is the latest in a long tradition of editors guiding an immigrant community with a bilingual newspaper. What sets him apart is his age, 17, and the fact that he arrived in America barely a year ago.
In fact, the soft-spoken teen started the paper with his older brother, Ganga, partly to make sense of a city that baffled them both. In launching their business, the young entrepreneurs opened a window on an uncommon immigrant group and a couple of its bright lights.