Emory College freshman Grace Shin hung up the phone and felt a rush of relief. Her mother, stepfather and sister, who all reside in Tokyo, Japan, were spared from the trail of the massive tsunami caused by an 8.9 magnitude tremor that struck 250 miles north of Tokyo and has left over 4,000 dead and 12,000 missing.
Shin said her family is increasingly concerned for its welfare not only because Tokyo is experiencing food shortages, but also because radiation fears have resurfaced following the nuclear leaks precariously contained at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
“They’re worried about what they’re going to do,” Shin said. “They might have to leave the country because of the second radiation leak.”
In the earthquake’s aftermath, Japan’s citizens struggle with power shortages, food scarcity, transportation delays and growing fears of radiation from the damaged Transportation limitation due to the destruction and scheduled blackouts in Japan is causing major delays in providing much-needed aid to the northeast, according to Rio Kuroyanagi (‘09C), a resident of Japan who was out of the country at the time of the disaster.
Kuroyanagi wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
that phone lines have also become congested, leaving blogs, Twitter and Facebook the only forms of operative communication.
“It is extremely heartbreaking to watch the news every day and to see thousands endlessly suffering from solitude,” he wrote.
Emory College senior Makoto Mori said his friends and family, who live in the southern region and Tokyo area, are distressed by the disaster. Not only have work places and schools closed from lack of transportation systems and regulations on gas purchase, but now food supply lines are congested and supermarkets are running out of inventory as people scramble to purchase food, Mori explained.
Mori said his friend in Tokyo thought a massive meteor had hit the earth when the earthquake happened.
“I have experienced an earthquake of magnitude of 7 plus and it was a terrifying experience — I can’t imagine the scale of this earthquake,” Mori said.
Although the situation remains dismal for a number of Japan’s citizens, all Emory students who are studying abroad in Japan are safe and are receiving precautions regarding the situation, Philip Wainwright, director of Emory’s Center for International Programs Abroad (CIPA) wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
“The [three students abroad] are all based in the south of the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami, either in Kyoto or in the region near Osaka,” Wainwright explained.
Emory College senior Yun Sub Lee, who is currently studying in Japan, confirmed that Kyoto was not heavily affected by the earthquake, and citizens have been able to proceed normally with their lives. Lee and other students have organized a relief group to raise money for the victims of the disaster.
“It is impossible to go up north and assist due to nuclear plant danger,” she said. “For now we may form into several groups to collect donations on the street.”
Several organizations at Emory have also coordinated relief efforts for the victims of last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.
Delta Phi Lambda (DPhiL) Sorority, Inc. set up donation boxes for each sisterhood event of DphiL Week, a celebration of the chapter’s charter which began Mar. 14 and ends this Sunday.
“When the tragedy occurred in Japan, our sisters immediately wanted to help in some way,” DPhiL president Amy Li said.
Emory’s InterSorority Council (ISC) and TriDelta Sorority have also collaborated to host a relief effort to raise funds for the Red Cross. “Greeks for Japan,” which will take place on Mar. 20, from 3-6 p.m. on the Sorority Village Lawn and will feature food and drinks, followed by a pizza sale at the Woodruff Library at 6 p.m.
College senior Alexis Kellert, who helped coordinate the event, explained that the event was designed to bring the entire Greek community in raising donations, which includes 11 participating sororities.
Religious Life at Emory hosted a table at Wonderful Wednesday, during which students wrote prayers and thoughts for the people of Japan on “Solidarity Ribbons,” which were hung during the Service of Contemplation and Meditation event Thursday evening in Cannon Chapel. On Thursday, a 10-minute silent meditation was held on Asbury Circle.
According to Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life Susan Henry-Crowe, tables with ribbons will be featured in the Dobbs University Center (DUC) and in the Common Grounds of Cannon Chapel this weekend.
Emory’s Students in Alliance for Asian American Concerns (SAAAC) will be collecting donations for the Red Cross as part of Culture Fest 2011 on Mar. 18 from 5-7 p.m. in Asbury Circle.
The Japanese Students Association (JSA) will be raising donations for victims at booths positioned in the Oxford Road Starbucks beginning Mar. 21.
The fundraiser, “A Thousand Cranes for a Thousand Prayers,” invites students to fold cranes from origami paper in emotional support for the victims.
According to JSA president and Emory College senior Ryousuke Kagawa, the goal is to collect a thousand cranes, which will be sent to Japan as a sort of prayer.
“It’s a really terrible tragedy,” she said. “I hope that it unites the Emory community so it can work toward the relief of the victims affected so much by the earthquake and tsunami.”
— Contact Emma Whitaker.