Prayers for Nepal

The images of the devastation in Nepal since Saturday’s earthquake are incredible.The death toll stands at more than 4,000 and seems to be climbing by the hundreds with every passing hour.

We have 46 students from Nepal at the university, and the earthquake’s impact on them is deep. Some have lost family members, almost all have lost their homes. It's been a heartbreaking realization for some of our American students to wrap their minds around such a tragic event and try to put themselves in the shoes of our Nepali students – to be attending a college in a foreign country halfway around the world and left to view images of your hometown in ruins with little to no contact with loved ones who live there.

As usual when these types of things happen, after the news broke Saturday, our staff went into action, working on ways to assist these students in any ways possible.

Tonight, our university gathered with our Nepalese students as one community to offer support. As we did to mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 and when one of our students was tragically murdered a few years ago, our community surrounded the iconic bell tower that stands in the middle of the campus, and candlelight filled the darkness. It’s always a powerful scene that gives me both chills and great joy just thinking about it.

But there was something more tonight. The gathering culminated with a walk to the university’s international flag plaza – where flags representing the countries of all of our international students are flown. The Nepal flag had been lowered to half-staff in honor of our Nepali students and that country. At the conclusion of tonight’s vigil, Nepali students returned the flag to full-staff and joined in singing their national anthem.

We expected the crowd to blow out their candles and disperse. But instead, some of the Nepali students set their candles on the ground around the flag pole. And the crowd followed, creating a heartwarming tribute to our Nepali students and victims of the earthquake and a beautiful scene.

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