Butler Tech teachers noticed high school junior Dependra Khatiwoda staring at the floors — again.
To those who don’t know the Bhutanese/Nepali teen, who is applying to become an American citizen, they might think the young man was sad.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
It’s gratitude and memories of cow feces that often turn the 16-year-old Dependra’s gaze downward.
In his former tiny school in Nepal, one of his weekly school chores was to fetch cow dung and mix it with water to spread across the dirt floor of his bamboo-walled school room to keep dust down.
“We would get cow dung and pulp it up and then lay it out … every week,” recalls the Fairfield resident, who is studying in the career school’s information technology program.
“The floor here is beautiful. You don’t have to put cow dung on it every week,” said the smiling Dependra. “It’s a world of difference.”
Born in South Asia’s Bhutan and raised in Nepal, the teen accompanied his parents who came to America seeking a better life.
Dependra loves America and doesn’t shy away from praising his adopted home.
“I see people just so happy and I see them helping each other like with (hurricane) Irma. I love the helping hand that America gives,” he said during a break in his classes at Butler Tech’s D. Russel Lee campus in Fairfield Twp.
Information technology instructor Steven Chambers said he appreciates Dependra’s willingness to share his personal story with his American classmates.
“What impressed me about Dependra is he shared with me his enthusiasm about being here at Butler Tech and what a nice school it is.,” said Chambers.
“Another thing that impressed me about Dependra is his attitude about his learning,” said Chambers, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former employee with NASA.
Butler Tech spokesman Michael Beauchat said the teen is inspirational.
“We really admire Dependra’s openness in sharing his family’s experience. If you think about how incredible his journey has been — coming from a school with no furniture to studying computers with an Air Force veteran and former NASA employee — it’s simply remarkable,” said Beauchat.
Dependra said he is determined to succeed in America.
“I want to make something of myself,” he said.