Nepalese students reach out in time of crisis

With almost 8,000 miles between the United States and Nepal, some South Dakota State University students may not feel the direct impact of the 7.8 Richter Scale earthquake that ripped through Nepal on April 25. However, more than 75 international students call Nepal home and have family who felt the tremors of Saturday’s earthquake. 

The earthquake destroyed much of the country and death tolls continue to rise as a result of aftershocks continuing to shake through Nepal. The earthquake killed more than 4,700 people and left more than 8,000 injured according to the Associated Press. 

The Nepalese Student Association immediately started to put together a plan Monday, April 27 to help raise funds in order to support the people of Nepal, many of whom are relatives of the Nepalese international students at SDSU.

“Nepalese students are like the second largest international student group at SDSU,” said Sushmita Shrestha, a Students’ Association senator representing graduate students.

Shrestha was in the middle of a skype call with her sister when the earthquake struck Nepal. 

“I was talking to my sister…I was talking to them and the skype chat got disrupted, there was an earthquake…everyone was screaming…I didn’t know how to react…I haven’t slept since it happened,” Shrestha said.

Erica Manandhar, an SA senator also representing graduate students, said she heard of the earthquake from a family member.

“I woke up to a call from my cousin, I couldn’t believe it…it’s not just a normal earthquake, it completely wiped out Nepal … it’s like those cities don’t even exist anymore,’ Manandhar said.

Following the earthquake, disruptions to communication connections made it difficult

to contact loved ones to find out what was going on, Manandhar said.

“We are away from our family and they are suffering…we really appreciate if the SDSU and the Brookings communities will join hands and help us through this,” Shrestha said.

It will cost billions of dollars to put Nepal back together following the destruction of the earthquake, Manandhar said. According to Shrestha, the fact that Nepal is not set up on a grid pattern makes the destruction more devastating.

“Especially with how the city is set up….it’s densely populated…a lot of buildings…narrow roads…it’s devastating because people can’t escape,” Manandhar said. Many Nepalese people were left homeless and are currently living outside in whatever open space they can find, Manandhar said.

Manandhar and Shrestha both work with the Nepalese Student Association and have started to take action to help their fellow Nepalese people, right here from SDSU. 

“We’re so helpless, we don’t know what to do…we cried and we comforted each other…we can’t just cry about it…we had to do something about it and reach out,” Manandhar said.

According to Manandhar, booths and tables will be set up in various locations around campus and the city of Brookings to collect donations for a relief fund set up through the university.

The Nepal Earthquake Candlelight Vigil will take place Thursday, April 30 on the Sylvan Green at 7 p.m. to show support for the Nepalese, Indian and Bangladeshi community at SDSU impacted by the earthquake.

SDSU President David Chicoine and Provost Laurie Nichols issued a statement to faculty and staff April 28 requesting they consider how the tragedy will affect Nepalese students in their coursework in the last two weeks of the semester. The statement also requested faculty and staff “watch for ways [they] can contribute to relief efforts being organized on campus and within the city of Brookings.”

“If everyone cut down on one coffee you could create two to three meals,” Manandhar said. Amounts as small as a dollar will make a difference and can provide basic needs to the people of Nepal, Shrestha said.

Both Shrestha and Manandhar have received support from fellow classmates and professors wanting to know how they could help the cause.

“I’ve always believed…some of the nicest people I’ve ever met have been from Brookings and to have this kind of support will help me know it’s true….it’s so amazing to have that kind of support here,” Manandhar said.

Nichols further encouraged students to reach out for help should they need it.

“Our thoughts are certainly with our Nepalese students and those directly impacted by the horrific situation in Nepal.  We have encouraged our faculty to work with these students in the final two weeks of the semester, realizing that they may be distraught and worried about loved ones in their home country. If there is anything more that we can do, we encourage students to reach out for help via their advisor, instructor or to offices on campus such as International Affairs, Student Affairs or my office,” Nichols said.

For those interested in making a donation, the SDSU Foundation set up a fund to help support the people of Nepal. Checks can be made payable to the SDSU Foundation with a memo of SDSU Nepal Relief Fund. Cash payments will be accepted at any donation booth and during the Nepal Earthquake Candlelight Vigil. Bank transfers are accepted via phone, those interested can contact Tim Dwire at 605-697-7475.