Japanese students aid home despite distance

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

After the recent disasters in Japan, several of Baylor’s exchange students found themselves facing the challenges of truly comprehending what had happened in their homelands and trying to find ways to help from afar.

Fukuoka, Japan, junior Yuki Ayukawa, who is studying at Baylor as an exchange student, has family both in Fukuoka and Tokyo. Though her family and friends are OK, she has found it difficult to watch the situation unfold on television.

“We expected someday the big earthquake to happen in Japan like in Tokyo, but I still cannot imagine what happened in Japan now,” Ayukawa said. “[On the news] it looks like hell, so yeah it’s just terrible for me and I feel so sad.”

Exchange student and Tokyo senior Megumi Nakano has only received good news about her family and friends back home so far, but remains worried about her friends in Northern Japan.

“I think I cannot understand what’s going on,” Nakano said. “My family was the most stressful thing for me, and at first I heard the news I couldn’t think it as like real things, but it’s getting become much realistic for me as time past, so it makes me very worried.”

Finding ways to help their fellow citizens in Japan is important to both Nakano and Ayukawa, but being so far away has made it a challenge.

“Because I live here now what happened in Japan is like other world for me, and even though I’m Japanese I can’t do anything for them now, so I have to figure out what I can do here,” Ayukawa said.

So far, Ayukawa said she has focused on prayers and donations.

Nakano said she also hopes students will make donations to assist student efforts in fundraising on campus.

The Japanese Student Association is working with others on campus to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross, said Sho Suzuki, Tokyo sophomore and event coordinator for the association.

There will be several donation stations set up on campus today through April 1.

They will be located in the Hankamer School of Business, the Baylor Sciences Building, the Bill Daniel Student Center, Penland and Memorial dining halls, Martin Residence Hall and Brooks Flats. The donation stations will be set up at various times at each of the locations.

Japanese Student Association president and Haslet senior Sarah Leat said there should be an announcement during Chapel on Wednesday to let students know the schedule for each station, and a website is being set up as well. The organization is also holding a prayer vigil from 9 to 11 p.m. Wednesday in the Vara Martin Daniel Plaza.

Attendees will be invited to participate in making 1,000 paper cranes, each with a message to the people of Japan written inside. Suzuki said the Japanese Student Association hopes to send the cranes to Japan as “a message to cheer them up.”

The Japanese Student Association will also be taking donations April 2 during its spring festival, Leat said.