Students and staff unite to help Japan

TOTAL DEVASTATION (Official U.S. Navy Imagery, on Flickr)

The recent devastation in Japan has left thousands homeless and the disaster could cost over $300 billion to repair, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

When the 9.0 earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean 80 miles east of Sendai at 2:46 p.m. on March 11 local time, the live helicopter footage began recording the 30-foot wave demolishing the city.

Along with the earthquake and tsunami, other problems began to branch into the surrounding cities such as cooling issues with the nuclear plant.

“Retired and older nuclear plant workers have volunteered to sacrifice their lives and be exposed to radiation in order to protect the others around,” said Fumiko Ishii, a Japanese instructor at Irvine Valley College.

Ishii was born and raised in a city near Tokyo. She was in transit to Costa Rica when she heard the news.

“I was so frustrated because I knew there was not much I could do,” said Ishii. “All I could do is wait.”

As soon as class resumed on Monday, she began fundraising. She has been gathering money on her own in an empty gallon bottle that she sets in her classroom. She plans to donate to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Alongside her own project, she advices the Japanese Club at IVC. Today, her club will sell T-shirts costing $10 each from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Student Center.

“Our club needs help with fundraising and spreading the word for the T-shirts,” Ishii said. “I think if we could work together with the clubs at Saddleback College that would be great.”

The Anime and International Clubs at Saddleback are also doing their share of fundraising.

To Japanese student, Tomoko Yokoyama, 32, web design, the live feed that she saw of the tsunami was surreal. Her family lives on the other side of Japan so she was happy to hear they were safe.

“I could not stop watching the TV because it seemed like a movie and I had to keep getting informed on what was going on,” said Yokoyama. “I felt helpless for what was happening.”

Once aware of the incident Yokoyama gathered her friends from the International Club and decided to set up a booth in the quad for students to donate money. Their goal was to collect $2500 to give to the American Red Cross.

Within the first two days that the International Club set up, they had raised more than $500.

“I know that many college students don’t have a lot of money so it is really nice to see the students want to help and that they actually care,” Yokoyama said.

The secretary for the Japanese Animation Club, Yasmeen Almohanna,18, culinary arts, decided to take a different approach to help revive Japan in their time of need.

“We are associated with the Japanese culture in anime, so we are helping the International Club gather their donations,” Almohanna said. “We are promoting students to get into Japanese Animation, because we think that whatever students do to watch the shows or read the books will help Japan out as well.”

The culture difference between the U.S. and Japan is hard for Ishii to grasp. She mentioned that when it comes to electricity, water and food the United States may be in trouble if a disaster would hit.

“Nothing lasts forever so we should be resourceful, cautious and never take our possessions

for granted, because they can be taken away very fast,” Ishii said.