When news broke on April 25 that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake had left Nepal reeling, student organizations on campus sprang into action to help coordinate relief efforts.
These students not only activated the student organizations they were involved in but also rallied about a dozen other organizations, both international and domestic.
Their efforts included “Unite for Nepal,” held May 4, a multi-faceted event featuring entertainment, prayer and personal reflections on the country’s cultural heritage and beauty, culminating in a plea to aid in its long recovery process. Students also raised an additional $1,000 by volunteering at a donation table in the Student Activities Center. Some students have run their own fundraising campaigns, adding to the $3,700 raised at the two-hour event.
The students gained immediate support from SBU Linguistics and South Asian Studies Professor S.N. Sridar, PhD, who also heads up the India Studies Center where the event took place.
Shyam Sharma, assistant professor for writing and rhetoric at Stony Brook, took on the role of “morale booster,” enlisting fellow faculty members to support the students and the drive.
“For educators like me, their work is, or should be, a tremendous source of inspiration towards rethinking and updating the framework and processes of education,” said Sharma. “These students put knowledge to its ultimately powerful use: to help humanity where help is needed most.”
Sharma went on to highlight the larger implications of global engagement by our students: “Many students in this generation seem to think in broad terms, considering boundaries as more fluid, creating stronger connections across cultures and showing more compassion for those beyond borders. In my 21 years of teaching, this is the most significant self-directed opportunity for intellectual, social and emotional growth in which I have seen my students involved.”
Students who conceived the idea of “Unite for Nepal,” such as Kripali Gautam, who belongs to SBU Taandava, SBU’s Indian Classical Dance team, Reyanka Koirala, Oshin Bharati, Aiswaria George and Sharugash Kiruba, to name only a few, lent their performance talents or organizational skills to the cause.
Dean of Students Timothy Ecklund and Associate Director of Student Support Cathrine Duffy were also on hand. They spoke at the event, highlighting how the university was able to immediately provide everything the students needed.
To be a part of the relief effort, you can visit one of the still active fundraising sites run by the students.
— By Glenn Jochum; photos courtesy of “Unite for Nepal”