JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Half a world away, situated between India and China, the country of Nepal is devastated.
Homes, businesses and historical sites were reduced to rubble after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit the country.
For one student at Arkansas State though, the news hit extremely close to home.
"Unfortunately, it was the place where my parents live, in Kathmandu Valley," Shyam Thapa told Region 8 News.
Thapa has lived in the United States for the past six years. He's currently working to obtain his doctorate degree at Arkansas State University.
Thapa said he first learned about the earthquake Saturday morning around 2am.
"At first, I couldn't believe it," Thapa said. "I searched on the Internet and found some news like the magnitude of the earthquake and the places where it was hardest hit."
Thapa said instead of sleeping, he spent the next four hours trying to contact his family. Thapa said the epicenter of the earthquake was just 15 miles from his parents' home.
"It was ringing there but nobody was picking up the call," Thapa said. "I had the feeling like, they must be safe but it's still...I was so worried. If something else happened, then it's a disaster."
Thapa was finally able to get in touch with his father around 6:30 Saturday morning. Though his family is okay, they were unable to take anything with them when the earthquake hit.
"It was the crucial hour, they had to run. they could not think about their property at the time," Thapa said.
Thapa said his parents, like many others, cannot go home just yet either.
Thapa explained that Nepalis have set up shelter in open fields for fear of aftershocks bringing down even more buildings.
"People were so scared at the time," Thapa said. "I heard that nobody left that open field, that they didn't go back to the house."
Now, he's just worried about the future of his home country.
"What is going to be in the next year?" Thapa said. "I mean, how to rebuild a whole nation again?"
Thapa said his brother is a doctor in Nepal and has been treating many of the severely wounded at a hospital there.
Thapa asks everyone to keep Nepal in their prayers and if possible, help the country rebuild by donating supplies or money.