BU students abroad in Japan safe after disaster

Associated Press
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members search for the victims of Friday’s tsunami Monday in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, three days after a massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami hit the country’s east coast.

Studies expected to continue despite tragedies

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Baylor’s six students studying abroad in Japan are safe and expected to remain in the country to complete their studies despite the tragedies that occurred last week, unless the situation changes, according to Katie Erickson, exchange program and study abroad adviser.

“Students are all safe and accounted for,” Erickson wrote in an e-mail to the Lariat. “At this time, our office is keeping abreast of the situation to determine if we need to take action.”

Baylor currently has three students studying at Hosei University in Tokyo and three at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka City.

Dr. Michael Morrison, director of the Center for International Education and Jo Murphy Chair, said the students in Tokyo are safe, but the state department has recommended that U.S. citizens in Tokyo not travel north. He said there will be a discussion within the university on precautions for the students.

“My office is preparing a report today [Monday] that we’ll be meeting with others within the university to discuss safety precautions for the students staying in Tokyo,” Morrison said.

The students at Seinan Gakuin should be able to continue their studies, Morrison said.

“At this time we have no reason to believe they have been impacted,” Morrison said. “We’ll of course keep an eye on it to make sure that set of circumstances does not change, but as long as it remains stable we have no reason to believe they won’t be able to complete their studies.”

Dr. David Uber, professor of French and director of the Baylor-Seinan Gakuin exchange program, said Seinan Gakuin was not harmed by the disasters because it is located on Kyushu, an island at Japan’s southern end.

“I heard from Seinan Gakuin that that area has not been affected at all and that our American students are fine there,” Uber said.

Tokyo was not severely affected either, according to Yuko Prefume, Japanese lecturer and director of the Baylor-Hosei exchange program, who was in Tokyo at the time of the earthquake.

“Except like public transportation stopping, everything else was pretty much business as usual,” Prefume said. “Actually, I think some schools might have closed for a couple days, but other than that, I think everything is pretty much normal.”

Prefume also received confirmation that the Baylor students at Hosei University are safe.

“I have not talked to them in person, but I was able to get ahold of Hosei’s exchange adviser and so we did confirm that all the Baylor students there are doing fine,” Prefume said.

Neither university’s classes seem to have been disrupted by the disasters.

“The students in Tokyo have semester dates that differ greatly, so it is my understanding that they are on a mid-year break,” Erickson said. “The students in Fukuoka have similar semester dates at Baylor and I have not heard that classes have been disrupted.”

The students have been in Japan since last semester. The Hosei University program will end in August, and the Seinan Gakuin University program will end in May, Erickson said.