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

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.

 

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

Just Posted

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court. Labbee was convicted April 12 for the fatal hit-and-run of 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sentencing hearing scheduled for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Crown will seek jail time for Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Most Read