Today marks four years since the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, and the aftermath which left hundreds of thousands of people displaced, homes damaged or destroyed, and infrastructure crippled. Although four years have since passed, with Japan receiving support on a global scale, recovery is still an ongoing effort.
Remembering the tragedy, the Elementary, Middle and High Schools each held brief memorials. High School student Madelaine Etherington spoke to the divisions separately, remembering the lives lost, damage done and the significance of that day. Madelaine also reminded students that relief is still a priority.
ASIJ students and faculty have remained dedicated to families displaced in the wake of 3/11 with efforts such as Table for Tohoku, English learning support and KEEP.
Table for Tohoku usually coordinates with the ASIJ kitchen in order to provide healthy food to students, faculty and staff. Part of the profits from sales of snacks such as parfaits is donated to provide fresh produce to families in temporary housing. Last December, however, saw a deviation from this model in the form of a Toy Drive. The Table for Tohoku HS Student Club collected and donated about ¥100,000 in addition to toys for children of disaster affected areas in Tohoku. The gifts collected were donated to OGA for Aid. Read more about Table for Tohoku on our previous blog post.
Middle School students have also been involved by providing virtual English classrooms to 5th and 6th grade students in Ofunato. They, too, have recently stepped outside of their normal activities by making a trip to teach in person. You can read more about their trip in our post ASIJ’S Tohoku Virtual English classes travel to Ofunato.
In addition to our remote classrooms, The Saturday English Circle Program continues to forge ahead, having added two new families in January. English Circle provides English lessons at ASIJ’s Early Learning Center for children who have relocated to Tokyo as a result of contamination in Fukushima. Kathleen Nickle (MS English Teacher) and Elicia Cousins (HS Writing Lab) have even added a regular course for parents. Demand for a spot in these classes has been high, often taking the English Circle Program to capacity.
The Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP) continues to assist families who have been affected by the 3/11 disaster four years ago. KEEP participants, most recently, invited 7 mothers and 14 children to ASIJ for a weekend of Winterfest and Tokyo fun. That story can be read in more detail at our Winter Retreat for ASIJ Fukushima Families post.
Even as years pass, ASIJ students, motivated to help in any way possible, fund-raise, teach, travel and work with affected families as the northern areas of Japan move forward with reconstruction. Those most strongly affected certainly remember 3/11/11 as if it were yesterday. Our actions as individuals and as a community will continue to show compassion and support for families still suffering four years later.