Texas Wesleyan students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Eunice and James L. West Library on Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in support of the university’s Nepalese students and their loved ones in Nepal.
Dean of Students Dennis Hall said that Wesleyan took action as quickly as possible to support Nepalese students on campus after Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
“Over the weekend the conversation among student life staff was, what do we need to be doing,” Hall said. “They immediately started outreaching and seeing what we could be doing. The candle vigil idea came from Abbey Borghee, our newly sworn in SGA president, to do something in reflection of everything that happened to raise awareness, to bring us all together, to show unity.”
The earthquake’s death toll topped 5,000 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The Washington Post.
The vigil began with the Nepalese students singing their country’s national anthem.
Rev. Dr. Robert Kenji Flowers, Wesleyan’s chaplain, led the group in prayer and a moment of silence. Nepalese students brought posters to display at the vigil; many showed photos of their country. The Nepalese flag was placed on the ground and students arranged candles around it.
American students, international students, faculty and President Frederick Slabach offered support to the Nepalese students. Many international students at Wesleyan said that they have gone through tragedies in their own countries, including Sri Lanka and Egypt. They said they want Nepalese students to know that they understood what they are going through, and that they are there for support.
A common theme from the Nepalese students was that as young people, they are a generation that can make a difference. One student, Atul Shrestha, a freshman business major, said that the Nepalese students at Wesleyan can help their people.
“What has happened has happened. I wish we could rewind it but unfortunately we can’t,” Shrestha said. “But that doesn’t mean we just sit here and do nothing and just mourn. It is us teenagers, the youth of the nation, that should do something about it.”
Nepalese student Sohel Ghimire was encouraged by the amount of people that came to the event.
“I first found out that there was an earthquake through Facebook,” Ghimire said. “I really appreciate that there is Facebook so that we can know the news over there. As soon as I saw it I thought that I should help my country. So what I did is I wrote a letter to international program and he set up a meeting.” Ghimire said he met with student life and they set up the arrangements for the candlelight service and to start collecting donations.
“All of the student life and my teachers did stuff with me and encouraged me,” Ghimire said. “They have really collaborated with us and we did the event. I did not expect all these people to be here. I didn’t even expect all the Nepalese to be here. I’m really happy that there are a lot of people who love Nepal so much. While I was collecting the donations even a homeless person gave me a dollar and told me that he didn’t need it, that it was more valuable over there.”