MORRISVILLE — For the second time this month, an ambassador from a South Asian country is coming to Morrisville.
Shankar Sharma, the Nepalese ambassador to the United States, will speak at town hall at 6 p.m. Friday, less than two weeks after a visit from the ambassador from India. It’s Sharma’s first visit to North Carolina.
The Nepal Center of North Carolina reached out to Sharma about a visit. Board member Rabin Karki enlisted the help of Morrisville town council member Steve Rao, who coordinated several meetings for Sharma and organized Friday’s event. Rao co-hosted a reception for the Indian ambassador on Oct. 7.
“One of the reasons why I’m taking an initiative as an elected official to start building these relationships with different countries is that we have so many of these immigrant communities now growing in our own region,” Rao said. “It opens the doors for partnering opportunities, trade opportunities and sister cities programs with these countries.”
About 100 Nepalese families live in Morrisville, Karki said. Asian-Americans make up only about 2 percent of the state’s population, but about 27 percent of Morrisville’s, according to the 2010 census. Nearly all of them arrived in the past decade, helping make the town one of the fastest growing in the Triangle.
Whether they are immigrants or Triangle natives, many of the town’s Asian-American residents have ties to their home countries, Rao said.
Many South Asians move to the Triangle for high-tech jobs in Research Triangle Park. With a median income higher than the county’s and a poverty rate of about 1 percent, Morrisville is relatively well-off and educated.
Karki moved to Morrisville for a job with IBM. He said the job prospects, combined with low crime rates, make it an attractive community for Nepalese immigrants.
Sharma will spend three days in the Triangle. He will be the guest of honor at the Nepal center’s celebration of Dashain, a 15-day religious festival in Nepal, on Saturday.
“That’s a big opportunity for us, too,” Karki said. “People can meet him, talk about Nepal, and how to grow their businesses from Nepal to here in Morrisville.”
Rao said meetings with Sharma will help identify potential relationships between Morrisville and Nepal, a land-locked, mountainous country between India and China. They largely have the same goals, he said: more jobs, more trade and a working relationship.
The attention from South Asia has a special connection for Rao, who said he is the first Indian elected to public office in Wake County.
“There will be many more,” Rao said.