Howard University, with one of the largest contingents of Nepali students in the country, is rallying to help them after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake last weekend that devastated their homeland.
Thirty-four students from the Himalayan nation are enrolled at Howard, part of a recent influx from Nepal to the historically black university in Northwest Washington. Many told The Washington Post last year they were drawn to Howard for its science and engineering programs.
But the damage from Saturday’s massive earthquake means some won’t be able to return home after final exams.
“This week, I met with our Nepalese students to let them know that, although they are many miles away from home, they are not alone,” Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a statement. “I was joined by several of our counselors, student leaders and our provost. We listened to their heartfelt stories of home and offered our assistance. The pain among these students was palpable, but they stood strong together with a resolve that inspired us all. They are determined to help their country, even from so far away.”
A candlelight vigil was held for the Nepali students on The Yard, the main quad at Howard, on Tuesday evening. Frederick also promoted a Web site for disaster relief that includes a special appeal from the Howard University Nepalese Student Association.
The fund-raising Web site quotes a Howard freshman named Sudheesh Bhattarai:
“My hometown is Kathmandu, Nepal; the city that was just shook by the devastating Earthquake. Me and my Nepalese friends from Howard University have started this mission to raise funds to provide immediate relief to the affected victims through local organizations such as Red Cross. At this moment, the most important thing that we students, studying abroad, could do is to raise the required funds so that we will be able to help our affected brothers and sisters back home. This fund will be provided to Red Cross to provide medicine, food and water.”
In addition, Howard officials said they are seeking resources for potential housing needs and other assistance for Nepali students who need it.
The Institute of International Education says Nepal sent 8,920 students to U.S. colleges and universities in the 2012-2013 school year. That made Nepal the 14th-ranked supplier of international students to U.S. campuses, just behind Britain and ahead of Iran.