International Communities Advisory Council (ICAC)
Mission: The City of Bowling Green International Communities Advisory Council was established to advise the Community Services Specialist/International Communities Liaison regarding the needs of immigrant and international residents in Bowling Green. The Advisory Council will represent members of our diverse communities and identify issues of concern, important changes in needs of the immigrant and international community and general ideas for improving the City’s mission of "strengthening our vibrant community by focusing on quality of life, service delivery, fiscal responsibility, public safety, neighborhood revitalization, visionary leadership, and economic development."
Duties: Members will collectively identify issues and make recommendations to the Community Services Specialist/International Communities Liaison for improving outreach and service delivery of city programs and services to immigrants and internationals. They agree to serve as a channel for two way communications between the City of Bowling Green and the Immigrant and International Community. Council members will:
- Obtain input from and identify service issues of immigrant and international Residents
- Communicate contributions and advances to the City’s mission by immigrant and international communities to the Advisory Council
- Work to develop recommendations for the Community Services Specialist/International Communities Liaison to address issues of concern
- Receive and disseminate, to respective cultural and ethnic group, beneficial community information shared during Council meetings.
Membership: Advisory Council members, recommended by members of the international and immigrant community and appointed by the City of Bowling Green’s Neighborhood and Community Services Department, commit to serving on the Advisory Council without compensation for a term of one year. After this one year term, membership may be renewed.
If you are interested in joining the ICAC please fill out the following application: ICAC Submission Form
Meetings: Every other month on the second Tuesday at 6:00pm, at the Commission Chamber in City Hall. Check the City’s calendar for specific meeting dates.
Abdelaati Kaiaa, who goes by Abdel, is originally from Beni Mellal, Morocco and moved to the United States in December of 2001 and has been living in Bowling Green for the past 15 years. Abdel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. He is married with two children and in his spare time he enjoys Soccer. Abdel joined the ICAC in March 2015 and hopes that through his involvement with the council he can learn, share experiences and successful stories with the members in order to help educate and inform our community to embrace and celebrate diversity.
Anna was born in Riverside, California but grew up in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in Sevierville, Tennessee. She studied abroad twice as an undergraduate, first for six weeks in Rome and Florence, Italy to study Italian language and culture and then for six months as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar in Bangkok, Thailand at Thammasat University’s Pridi Banomyong International College. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from Middle Tennessee State University, Anna received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Vientiane, Laos. There Anna taught for a year in the Faculty of Letters at the National University of Laos and at the American Corner in the U.S. Embassy. Now, Anna has lived in Bowling Green for almost two years and works as the Coordinator in WKU’s Office of International Programs. As Coordinator her role is to support faculty and staff, manage WKU’s internationalization grants, and facilitate cultural and global programming through programs like International Education Week. Her passion to support and connect with the local international populations led her to join the ICAC in spring of 2015. Anna is also a member of the Bowling Green Young Professionals and is soon to join the local Rotary Club. She speaks basic Thai and basic Lao and has studied Italian, Arabic, and currently Spanish. She enjoys traveling, reading, and meeting new people from all walks of life.
Anzuruni Abwe is originally from Baraka (South Kivo), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and moved to the United States in September of 2011, he has been living in Bowling Green for over 3 years. Mr. Abwe and his wife are the proud parents of 11 children (5 sons and 6 daughters). Mr. Abwe speaks Swahili, French, and is learning English as well. He has completed three years of college education in Economics, and likes to read books, newspapers and watch television. Mr. Abwe serves as the President of the Association of Rescue and Intervention of Kentucky (ARIKY), a local non-profit organization serving refugees, which was awarded the City’s Neighborhood Builders Blueprint Award in 2014 in recognition of outstanding vision and leadership for neighbors in our community. Mr. Abwe joined the ICAC since its inception in June 2012 and wants to help the community address issues related to citizenship, driver’s licenses, job opportunities, and scholarships.
J Dominique Gumirakiza was born in Rwanda and has been living in the United States since July 2008 to pursue his Graduate studies. Dr. Gumirakiza obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from University of Rwanda in 2004; he obtained a Masters in Applied Economics from Utah State University in 2010 and a PhD in Economics from Utah State University in 2013. He serves as Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics at Western Kentucky University (WKU). Dr. Gumirakiza is fluent in English, French, Kirundi, and Kinyarwanda and has received numerous awards: The 2012 Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award by the Golden Key Society, the 2012 Project Service Scholarship Award by the American Project Management, Inc., Fulbright Scholarship Award by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (2008 to 2010). He actively serves in a number of associations such as: Network for Education of the Poor in Rural Rwanda (NEPRR www.neprr.org), Fulbright Alumni Association, Golden Key International Honor Society, Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA), and Quality Matters (QM). He is married and has four children, and in his spare time enjoys exploring the nature, hiking, and traveling. Dr. Gumirakiza joined the ICAC in June 23, 2015 to help to identify issues of concerns and needs within the international community in Bowling Green, provide advice to the Community Services Specialist/International Communities Liaison regarding the needs of this community, participate in activities/events that aim at strengthening the international community, and improving standards of living among members of this community.
Dzeldina Dzelil who goes by Gina was born is Foca, Bosnia and Herzegovina and arrived to the United States in 1998, she has been living in Bowling Green for the past 17 years. She holds a degree in Business and German from Western Kentucky University and speaks Bosnian, German, and English. In her spare time Gina loves to travel and try new foods. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Commission. She joined the ICAC in 2012 to help the Bowling Green community learn more about other cultures and to help the International community integrate easier and make a home in Bowling Green.
Heath Ray is a native of Bowling Green, KY and serves as the Refugee Program Coordinator and Bridging the Gap Interpreting Training Facilitator for Community Action of Southern Kentucky. Heath graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Western Kentucky University and upon graduation serve a two-year term with the United States Peace Corps in Tanzania, Africa. Heath joined the ICAC since its inception in June 2012 and also serves as a Board member for the Foundry. Heath speaks English and Swahili and is a passionate advocate for language access and refugee resettlement and hopes to bring awareness of the refugee population and continue efforts to make Bowling Green and welcoming community.
Jorge Luis Mejia Valdiviejo
Jorge is originally from Siguatepeque, Honduras and moved to the United States in August of 2012 because of a job transfer with Fruit of the Loom, and has been living in Bowling Green for 9 months. Jorge is an Industrial Engineer and holds a Master’s in Business Administration; he speaks Spanish and English and has received many awards such as “employee of the year” in previous jobs. Jorge is married to Marlene Bonilla, and has a little toy poodle named “Bongo.” In his spare time Jorge enjoys to read, travel, and play volleyball, basketball, and golf. Jorge joined the ICAC in January 2015 because he had a great desire to help the International Community in Bowling Green.
Kam Lian Thang
Kam Lian Thang, who also goes by the name Leo Thang Pi, is originally from the township of Tedim, Myanmar and moved to the United States in June of 2009. He and his wife May Ram, and two sons, Pau Sian Muang and Mang Lian Sang, have called Bowling Green their home for the past 6 years. Thang Pi speaks Zomi and Burmese and serves as the General Secretary for the Zomi Community in Bowling Green. He study Economics and in his spare time enjoys playing Soccer. Thang Pi joined the ICAC in 2013.
Khin Maung Nyunt is well-known in Bowling Green as Mr. Jimmy Nyunt. Mr. Jimmy was born in Phaung Byin, Burma and was forced to leave his home country because of rule of military dictatorship, lack of democracy, violation of human rights, injustice, inequality and suppression against people who took part in peaceful protests against the successive military regimes. He moved to Bowling Green with his wife Nwe Nwe (Ginny Nyunt) in October 2004 and has been living here ever since. Mr. Nyunt graduated from the military academy and University of Rangoon in 1959 with a Bachelor’s degree; he speaks Burmese, English, and Thai. He is the patron of the Burmese Community in Bowling Green, KY and patron of the Patriotic War Veterans of Burma. He volunteers for the Foster Grandparents Program at Community Action of Southern Kentucky and treasures most getting an opportunity to extend his volunteer service to the poor, the needy and the young in the fields of education, justice and principles of democracy. Mr. Nyunt joined the ICAC since its inception in 2012 and would love to see a project called “Bowling Green, A Cosmopolitan City in USA,” to make Bowling Green a real hub of business, education, and one of the best places for settlement and retirement. In addition, he envisions this project as a powerful attraction to prospective businessmen, students, and new settlers near and abroad.
Marlene Judith Bonilla
Marlene Judith Bonilla, who otherwise goes by Judy, was born in Houston, Texas but lived a great part of her life in Honduras. She moved back to the United States three years ago, as she was ready to come back and start a new life here. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and is currently pursuing a Surgical Technology program at South Central KY Community and Technical College. She is married to Jorge Mejia, who also serves on the ICAC, and they share their home with their eight year-old poodle named “Bongo.” In her spare time she enjoys a good book, playing in the local volleyball league and doing school work. Judy joined the ICAC in the Fall of 2014 to reach others by voicing her opinions, on improving life-quality of all members of the International Communities.
Lwe Htoo was born is Pa Anh Ahn, Burma and moved to the United States in July 2007. Lwe Htoo was displaced from his home country to a refugee camp in neighboring Thailand, before being resettled in Bowling Green as a refugee. Lwe Htoo represents the Karen ethnic group in Burma; he also speaks Karen and is a leader in the Karen Community. He also actively serves as member of the International Buddhist Temple in Bowling Green. Lwe Htoo joined the ICAC in 2012 and loves to learn more information about City services so that he can share with his own community. He became a United States Citizen in December 2012.
Me Meh was born is Shadaw, Burma and moved to the United States in June 2009 and has lived in Bowling Green for the past 5 years. She graduated from Warren Central High School in 2013 and is currently studying Medical Information Terminology at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College. Me Meh speaks Karenni, Burmese, and English and has served as interpreter for a number of community-based organizations and schools. She is actively involved in her community and has helped with events such as Karenni National Day and the Bowling Green International Festival. She joined the ICAC in 2014.
M’munga is originally from Nundu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and moved to the United States in August of 2010 and has been living in Bowling Green ever since. M’munga and his wife are the proud parents of seven children, who were resettled in Bowling Green as refugees as they were forced to flee their country due to violence and discrimination. M’munga speaks French, Swahili, Kibembe, and English and is a founding member of a local non-profit organization helping refugees called “Association of Rescue and Intervention of Kentucky (ARIKY). M’munga joined the ICAC since its establishment in June 2012 and has a great desire to see the Council continue to grow and helping the Bowling Green Community.
Rev. Zam Suan Mung
Reverend Zam Suan Mung was born in Kando, Myanmar and moved to Bowling Green November 2014 seeking a better life for himself and his family. He speaks Zomi, Burmese, Mizo, and English. He received his Bachelor’s in Theology in 1994 in Myanmar, and then went on to receive a Master of Art in Bible and Mission from Singapore in 1995. He pursued is Doctorate in Ministry in 1998 in the Philippines before moving to the United States. He found the Zomi Myanmar Baptist Church in 2009 and was ordained by Living Hope Baptist Church in 2010 where he serves as pastor for the Zomi community. He serves as key advisor and leader for the Zomi community in Bowling Green. Reverend Zam is married to Dim Suan Man and has four beautiful children, two daughters and two sons. He joined the ICAC in 2013 and is instrumental in sharing the needs and challenges of his community, while reporting back information about available City and Community resources.
No biography information is currently available.
Sonia J. DeGroot is a native of Santiago de Cali, Republic of Colombia, who moved to the United States in January of 1998. Sonia has been living in Bowling Green for the past 5 years with her husband and two daughters Kimmie and Josie; along with their little dog name Koko. Sonia holds a Bachelor’s Degree is Early Childhood Education and a second Bachelor’s in Social Sciences. She is an ESL teacher at Dishman McGinnis Elementary School, and is currently working on her ESL endorsement and Master’s degree in ESL Special Education. When Sonia is not teaching, she enjoys scrapbooking and working out. She is a busy parent whose daughters are actively involved in extracurricular activities such as soccer and cheerleading. Sonia speaks Spanish and English and has been involved with the ICAC since August 2012.
Srihari Seshadri, who goes simply by Sri, was born in Channapatna, India and came to the United States in 2000 to seek higher educational opportunities. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Medical College, Bangalore, India. He obtained his Master’s degree in Public Health from Western Kentucky University in December 2002. He is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Clinical and Translational Science, College of Medicine, from the University of Kentucky. He serves as the Senior Epidemiologist for the Barren River District Health Department and his wife is a physician for Commonwealth Health Corporation, they have a 7 year old daughter. Sri speaks English, Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu and in his spare time he enjoys music and singing. Sri is a Fellow of Kentucky Public Health Leadership Institute, member of the Kentucky Public Health Association, and fellow of Rural Health Society, Calcutta, India. He was honored as a “Friend of Nursing,” by Sigma Theta Tau International, Honor Society of Nursing in April 2014. He received the E. “Al” Austin, Jr., Career Achievement Award, from the Kentucky Public Health Association in March 2012. Sri was also named Employee of the month, at the Barren River District Health Department in January 2007. Sri joined the ICAC in 2013 to provide a voice and resources to the International Communities in Bowling Green, KY and to increase awareness of different cultures in our community.
No biography information is currently available.
Leyda coordinates the City's role in communicating and working effectively with the diverse international communities represented in Bowling Green, and serves as an advocate for LEP (Limited English Proficient) persons who may seek City services. Leyda is a licensed trainer in Cultural Competency and Bridging the Gap Medical Interpreter Training from the nationally recognized Cross Cultural Health Care Program in Seattle, Washington. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communications from Western Kentucky University. Leyda is a native of Venezuela, South America, and has made Bowling Green her home for over 22 years.
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