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USP offers 10 scholarships in vigil for victims of Asia-Pacific disasters

University of the South Pacific students walk to the AusAID lecture theatre to begin the candlelight memorial service for disaster victims in Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Photo: USP Journalism

Pacific Scoop, Wansolwara

27 March, 2011

Special report by Minnie Edmanley and Zhiyad Khan in Suva

A candlelight memorial service to remember the victims of the recent disasters in Australia, New Zealand and Japan was held at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala campus in Suva last night.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra said the university was deeply saddened about the devastating loss of lives in Queensland, Christchurch and Japan.

“USP feels the pain and suffering in these three countries,” he said.

Chandra said the university had a longstanding friendship with the three countries and it was very appropriate for USP to reach out during their time of loss.

Jason and Mereani Pakoa, aged 3 and 5, join their parents at the USPHope memorial service. Photo: USP JournalismAbout 250 students and staff took part in the memorial, which began with a symbolic march from the Japan-funded ICT Centre to the AusAID lecture theatre about four blocks away.

Japan’s Ambassador Yutaka Yoshizawa, Australia’s Acting High Commissioner Kristy Moneil and New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner Peter Lund were present at the service led by USP’s chaplain Father John Bonato.

Yoshizawa said he was impressed with the USP community for organising the memorial, and its campaign to help provide relief to those affected.

Sharing the sorrow
Atama Nakalevu, a postgraduate diploma student, said it was only right that the USP community reach out during this time of suffering.

“As a Christian, I believe we all belong to one family, so when one of us is suffering, we should all share in that sorrow,” said Atama, after signing the condolence book opened at the memorial.

Lucy Kapp, an undergraduate, said she was overwhelmed by the service and hoped whatever little help USP could offer would be of significant help to those affected.

Rowena Tutu, another student, said the memorial opened her eyes to the fact that “we are not alone in this world”.

“Somewhere, everyday, there are people who pray for us,” she said.

Scholarships offer
The service marked the beginning of USP’s campaign, entitled USPHope, to fundraise for scholarships for 10 students from the three countries.

The scholarships would be offered to “students who have lost everything”, said Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Esther Williams.

“While we would like to help more if we could, the Vice-Chancellor has agreed that we offer university places to up to 10 students from each of the three places for the remainder of the academic year, 2011,” she said.

“The funds we raise will meet some travel and accommodation costs. The VC has agreed to waive fees. We are working with a number of companies and organisations to assist us; and staff to offer accommodation for a period.”

Details of the assistance will be finalised by the university’s international office, she said.

Minnie Edmanley and Zhiyad Khan are second-year journalism students at the University of the South Pacific.

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Published as a partnership between the AUT Pacific Media Centre and Scoop Media Ltd. Contributions include items from student journalists at AUT University, DWU University and the University of the South Pacific.
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Wansolwara is the award-winning journalism student newspaper published by the University of the South Pacific.


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