More than 20 organizations came together at the Unite for Nepal event on Monday, May 5 in order to provide relief and urgent care to the people affected by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25. The event, which was held in the Student Activities Center, was a mixture of speeches, dances and songs, all with the intent of raising money to help a country in need.
“They will forget their school work, their calculus, biology, and chemistry, but will always remember this as their finest hour in college,” S.N. Sridhar, professor of linguistics and South Asian studies and the director of the Center for India Studies at Stony Brook University, said in his speech.
The event raised $3,756 in just two hours, and that will be added to the already existing $4,225 on the events’ GoFundMe donation webpage. The proceeds will be divided between the United Nations World Food Programme and the International Medical Corps.
“All of the students involved, regardless of background, came together for something more important than themselves,” Sridhar said. “The students involved aren’t all Nepalese, it was general humanity that seemed to motivate them. This event shows the highest traditions of charity being used and to see it translated into practice is amazing.”
The guest speakers featured included Rabbi Joseph Topek, the director of the Hillel Foundation and chair of the Interfaith Center; Cathrine Duffy, the associate director of student support; Timothy Ecklund, dean of students and vice president for student affairs; and Rita Nezami, full-time lecturer for the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Stony Brook.
Reyanka Koirala, a junior political science major; Oshin Bharati, a senior psychology major and president of the Stony Brook Community Service Club; and Kripali Gautam, a sophomore sociology major, were all of the students who gave speeches during the event.
“I started the fundraising with the Nepalese American Youth Association and was so happy to see it bring awareness to people who might not have known about the tragedy,” Koirala said. “It’s nice to see a lot of people come out and support us.”
Sridhar was also a guest speaker along with Shyam Sharma, assistant professor for the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Stony Brook. Both of these professors were involved in organizing the event.
“Throughout the planning process, I was able to watch students use knowledge in an ultimately impactful way,” Sharma said. “These students put skills and knowledge to its best use—to serve humanity where it’s most needed.”
The event was initially started by Sharugash Swargaloganathan, a senior biochemistry major and a member of SBU Taandava, an Indian classical dance team at Stony Brook University. Swargaloganathan and the rest of the members of Taandava quickly got involved in trying to bring relief to Nepal.
“I had a genuine interest in this cause,” Swargaloganathan said, “and many people were able to come together as a group in order to help.”
Since Stony Brook has a large South-Asian population, many students were personally connected to the cause.
“I have an emotional connection to Nepal because of my background,” said Tenzin Nyima, a sophomore biology major. “All of the images that I’ve seen of the buildings being destroyed are parts of my childhood. It definitely feels nice to see everyone coming together to help.”
The event came together with the help of SBU Taandava, the Center for India Studies, SBU Bhangra, SBU Junoon, YUVA, De Taali, Iota Nu Delta, Distressed Children and Infants International, Sigma Beta Honor Society, Phi Delta Epsilon, the Community Service Club, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, UNICEF, Sigma Beta Rho, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Himalayan Club, the Hindu Students Council, Bengalis Unite, Pi Lambda Phi, the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“I was really surprised that they were able to put together this event in a week,” Julia Joseph, a senior biochemistry major, said. “It was also amazing to see how diverse the audience was.”
Many of the students in charge were very happy with how successful the event was.
“I am so grateful that so many clubs, faculty, and students showed up and pulled through in less than 10 days,” said Shreeya Tuladhar, a sophomore biology major, vice president of the Himalayan Club and one of the emcees for the event.
“I feel like good things fall apart so better things can come together,” Tuladhar said. “Nepal fell apart and the world came together. We all did ‘Unite for Nepal.’”