The deadly Nepal earthquake may have happened on the other side of the world, but for several students and staff from Florida International University with close ties to the area Monday was a day to support each other.
Student Nipesh Pradhananga lost an aunt in the tragedy.
"We lost our family house, it did not collapse but it's not livable anymore," Pradhananga said.
Iru Baudel, from Kathmandu, has seen the rubble that used to be her hometown.
"I was grown up there, I had studied there, I had spent almost 25 years of my life there and now when I go back home I won't find it the same," she said. "Not the same Kathmandu where I had grown up."
Just about every Nepalese student and staffer at FIU has a close connection to the tragedy. Many of their relatives are living outdoors, fearing their homes will collapse.
University president Mark Rosenberg wanted to meet with them, not just to offer support, but also to press the importance of staying the course.
"That they continue their education, that they find a way, if they have to go home, that we find a way to support them so they can return and finish their education because one tragedy should not compound another," Rosenberg said.
Professor Richard Olsen, a specialist on natural disasters, offered perspective on the recovery process.
"There is a mixture of shock and grief," Olsen said.
Another professor, an earthquake expert, warned of the aftershocks to come. Students and faculty know they'll see and hear more bad news about their country. Some would like to go home and help.
Association advisor Prem Chapagain knows that's not practical.
"Probably I can't do anything if I go. It is a very uncomfortable situation being far away, even if we are so far away it still hurts, you know," Chapagain said.
A vigil will be held at FIU's Modesto A. Maidique Campus at the Graham Center at 7 p.m. Monday.