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.

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: West Coast Christmas Show and Artisan Market at Tradex

Over the past 11 years the show has been attended by over 175,000 visitors

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in

Man stabbed in Abbotsford during altercation in restaurant parking lot

Victim taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries Friday afternoon

Pilot Sonya Sangster receives UFV Distinguished Alumni Award

Former grad flies planes and works in international development

Mission author to sign copies of her first book

Wendy Fraser will be at Totally Book-ish in the Junction Mall on Nov. 21

VIDEO: Bald Eagle Festival welcomes tourists, salmon, eagles to Harrison Mills

The annual festival took place on Saturday, Nov. 16 and Sunday, Nov. 17

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Paul Bissonnette joins Vancouver Warriors after tweeting he could walk on to an NLL club

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

Most Read