UFV students raise money to keep ‘nicest’ person in Abbotsford

Foreign student struggles to pay for schooling after Trump withdrawal from Iran deal

As international politics and finances threaten to derail the educational and career plans of a University of the Fraser Valley student, her classmates and friends are putting their own money forward to try to keep her in Canada.

Atena Darkhor moved to Abbotsford from Iran three years ago in pursuit of a life she didn’t think was possible in her home country.

Darkhor didn’t want to go to university, get married and immediately start a family, like most of her high school classmates. Instead, she wanted a career in the sciences.

But in Iran, she saw little hope for a woman gunning for jobs in male-dominated fields.

“Everybody was telling me that as a girl, you probably can’t do what you want to do,” she said. “People always say, ‘You are a girl, you are not supposed to do this.’

“My goal was to study, get a job and start working. I think my way was different from the typical way.”

So she moved to Canada, enrolled at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2016, upgraded her English and other required classes, and is now one year of study away from completing a general studies diploma.

She had hoped that diploma would lead to permanent residency, a subsequent degree, and a career in the sciences.

But the international problems of Darkhor’s homeland have followed her.

Tuition for foreign students at the University of the Fraser Valley is expensive: around $10,000 per semester. And although her parents had supported her choice to study abroad, the family money she had relied upon has become increasingly difficult to access. (Darkhor has a job at the Envision Athletic Centre, but, as a foreign student, she isn’t allowed to work full-time.)

The problems began last winter, but escalated this spring, when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a multilateral agreement with Iran. The U.S. also reinstated sanctions that have damaged the Iranian economy.

The resulting turmoil has more than tripled the cost to exchange Iranian funds for Canadian dollars, Darkhor said.

For months, she tried to figure out how to stay in Canada, but by Dec. 1, had run out of ideas.

She told her friend, Madison Winter, that she would soon be booking a flight home.

“I said hold on,” Winter said. “She means a lot to me.”

Darkhor and Winter had become close friends since meeting in UFV’s Baker House residence three years ago. She had watched as the stress of her friend’s financial situation took a toll.

Two days after being told her friend might be leaving, Winter opened an online GoFundMe account and told her friend’s story.

Donations began pouring in almost immediately – mostly from those in the UFV community who had come to know Darkhor since she moved on campus.

The response may have surprised Darkhor, but Winter is less shocked that so many people would contribute money to keep her friend around.

“She’s genuinely the nicest person I’ve ever met,” she said. “People care about her, and I don’t think she knows how important she is to the community.”

Within just a couple days, more than $1,000 had been raised. A week later had seen the campaign reach $2,425.

The total is still far short of the $10,000 goal, but it is enough for a payment that will buy Darkhor more time in university.

Darkhor said she has been touched by the support:

“I didn’t know how many people wanted me here,” she said. “I can’t … thank them [enough].”

The GoFundMe page can be found by searching AllowAtena either at gofundme.com or on Google. Or by clicking here.

RELATED: Trump pulls U.S. out of ‘horrible’ Iran nuclear accord

RELATED: Trump’s pull out from Iran deal deepens US isolation


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Irish folk supergroup Kíla set to perform on Saturday

Online concert will be available through Harrison Festival Society

Reported Kelowna Hells Angels member dies in Fraser Valley motorcycle crash

Michael “Speedy” Christiansen was found dead on Monday morning near Ruby Creek on Highway 7

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read