Japanese students lead meeting to plan disaster relief

Five Elon students from Japan were joined by about 75 fellow students on March 15 in planning the community's response to the earthquake and tsunami in that country. The brainstorming session was held in the Isabella Cannon International Centre, where students came up with many ideas to raise relief funds and send messages of encouragement to those who are suffering in the wake of the disaster.

The Japanese students began the meeting by explaining the locations and effects of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant damages. They played videos and talked about the latest figures of those killed, injured and left homeless.

The students then asked for suggestions on ways to raise money to contribute to disaster relief. Among the many ideas suggested was a 6-mile fundraiser run, symbolizing the distance the tsunami waves pushed inland following the earthquake.

Sophomore Junko Aoyama from Tokyo said her family back home has already donated to disaster relief and she felt obligated to join them. “I really want to make a difference at home,” Aoyama said. “I don’t want to be in the U.S. and be just a spectator.”

Hiroshi Wada from Osaka said he was happy with the turnout for the planning meeting. “It’s important to be involved,” Wada said. “This disaster is so big, but we can do something – we have to do something.”

Wada said the Japanese students will determine which ideas are the best and then launch their efforts following Elon’s spring break. They gathered names and e-mail addresses from those at the meeting and plan to enlist their help in the weeks ahead.