Campus News

Japan’s ongoing crisis

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Today’s official death toll in Japan is a little less than 12,500 with more than 15,000 people reported as missing. Over 150,000 people are being housed in temporary shelters and tens of thousands of others have evacuated their homes due to the nuclear crisis, according to nytimes.com. Bethel students share their reactions to the earthquake/tsunami that hit Japan nearly one month ago.

“The situation in Japan really breaks my heart,” shared freshman Andrew Poikus. “I wish there was some way I could make everything better for those children who now have no parents and for those parents who still don’t know where their children are.” “If I had the time and resources, I would go over there,” stated senior Austin Francis. On March 11, 2011 an earthquake jolted the country of Japan. It struck with a 9.0 magnitude just off the coast, leveling buildings and homes. As the most powerful quake ever to hit the country, devastation and relief efforts have been ongoing since the time of its strike. On April 1, a search party of over 25,000 Japanese and American personnel composed the largest rescue mission ever conducted in the country as they combed the coast for thousands still missing. One of Bethel’s students recounts a local response to the crisis that took place nearly 6500 miles (or 114,400 football fields) away. Freshman Amy Baker interns in the Mishawaka City Hall for Mayor Dave Wood. On the day of the quake, the mayor’s office called Mishawaka’s sister city in Japan to see how they were doing. Shiojiri and Mishawaka have been sister cities for more than 40 years. Baker recalls that the mayor of Shiojiri valued the call so much that he received it at three or four in the morning. “There was no translator,” Baker recounts. “Since the Japanese mayor didn’t know English, he hung up because he got so nervous!” The call was successfully placed another time and Baker said there were lots of reporters in the room. Overall, the student response to the disasters in Japan is mildly superficial. It’s a reality that some students have no more than a basic awareness of the plight, thanks to word of mouth and internet headlines. While some students may have friends and family members more directly affected by the quake and corresponding tsunami, for many students, it’s easy to give only a passing glance and continue on with schoolwork. Some feelings of remorse may surface, a few dollars may be given and prayers offered up to heaven. No matter the response, in the words of Poikus: “It is going to take a very long time for things to get even remotely better for the Japanese people.” http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/japan/index.html Check out pictures at: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/flash/newsgraphics/2011/0311-japan-earthquake-map/index.html
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