Pokhrel and Adhikari buy winter clothes at the Salvation Army Thursday night with money from Dal students' $1.50 WUSC levy.

First winter for WUSC students

Two students stuck out last Thursday night as they shivered in hoodies at the bus stop outside Howe Hall. All the other people standing on the sidewalk wore winter jackets. Seconds later, the bus pulled up to take Damodar Pokhrel and Sudarsan Adhikari to the Salvation Army where the two World University Service of Canada students would buy their first ever winter sweaters, snowpants and coats.

"Are you sure you're OK?" Marysia Parry, World University Service of Canada Dalhousie chair and international development student, asked the pair again.

"No, we're fine," Pokhrel replied. Beside him, Adhikari's shoulders were hunched, his hands deep in his pockets.

On Aug. 25, the two students, both 21, arrived in Halifax from Nepal thanks to World University Service of Canada, a non-profit organization that gives impoverished youth access to post-secondary education. Pokhrel and Adhikari are enrolled in first year arts and sciences respectively. They are the sole students in this year's program.

Originally from Bhutan, the boys and their families had to flee to Nepal in the 1980s to escape political turmoil. For the first time this year, the organization helped bring the visiting students' families to Halifax as well.

World University Service of Canada Dalhousie is made up of students and faculty members. Originally founded in 1981, the organization has since sponsored 45 students. Through a $1.50 student levy from full-time students at Dal, the students are able to pay tuition, rent, books and they also have a monthly allowance.

"They each have $500 for winter clothes and we're going to take advantage of the free clothes at the academic centre (on Friday, Nov. 20)," Parry said. "I don't think we've ever taken advantage of it before ... If we don't find a winter coat, we'll go to Sears or something."

After waiting 20 days for the organization's winter clothing cheques that were supposed to arrive in the mail in only 10 days, Parry was frantic. Then she found out she was supposed to pick up the cheques. The bank then held the money for six days. The two students were left without jackets until last week as a result.

Meanwhile the first snow of the season fell and melted into slush. The two new Dalhousie students had never seen snow before.

"That was the first time I've seen snow in my life," Pokhrel said. "Very wonderful. I like it."

"It was amazing," Adhikari said of the snow, though he wore only a sweatshirt and jeans outside that day. Nepal is too hot, he said. "In the summer it's 42 degrees Celcius."

"Will you go skating?" Parry asks, her voice raising an octave.

"I will take you! And skiing! Well, maybe not skiing. I don't know how. We can go toboganning!"

Pokhrel and Adhikari aren't the only ones to benefit from the organization. Parry and other volunteers glean a lot from nearly full-time work.

"I get to learn everything that needs to be done to run an NGO (non-governmental organization), which is awesome. You wouldn't get this kind of experience unless you were part of an internship otherwise."

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