Japanese Students Rally for Red Cross

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Japanese Students Rally for Red Cross

Story By Sean LeePhotos By Craig Garaas-Johnson

Despite being thousands of miles away, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan affected dozens of students here at the University of North Dakota. “I was sad that I couldn’t do anything,” said Noriyuki Ito. “There was lots of damage in Japan; I felt so sorry.”

Things haven’t been going well for Japan in the aftermath of the record 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. In addition to mass destruction of entire villages, the threat of nuclear contamination from the Fukushima power plant continues to threaten the island nation.

“We checked in with every student from Japan right after it happened,” said Matt Hiller, an International Student Advisor at the UND International Center.

In the days that followed the quake, there were some complications. “We had some students who had a hard time getting in touch with loved ones,” Hiller said. “[Personally] I was on the phone trying to get in touch with friends. I was scared for them.”

Fortunately, there were no direct losses for any Japanese students at UND.

Moving Forward

Looking for a way support those still suffering from the quake and tsunami, a group of Japanese students approached Hiller with an idea of a fundraiser. “They came up to me with several ideas,” Hiller said. “I helped with getting approvals and they took care of getting volunteers.”

But the question still remained: how will they get students to donate?

Then, Rieko Eguchi, a UND junior, came up with a bright idea – origami cranes.

Japanese folklore gives cranes a special significance. Long chains of cranes are strung together and given as gifts during celebrations – such as weddings or during the birth of a child. Legend has it that cranes bring good fortune and peace to the receiver.

Freshmen Kou Omori spent most of his Monday afternoon volunteering his time for the cause. “It’s been great... I’ve only been here for a few hours and look what we have so far,” Omori said as he tilted the small donation can full of small bills.

Most donations were from students shuffling to and from class. Each donor is entitled to his or her pick of the dozens of hand-folded cranes that decorate the small table. A display that highlights the aftermath of the quake and tsunami reminds donors where their money goes. “There is about 10-15 of us [collecting donations,]” Omori said. “We usually just come and go and take a shift whenever they need us.”

Ways You Can Help

Donations will continue to be accepted April 18th and 19th in the link at Odegaard Hall between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The group will also make an appearance at the International Center’s cultural night on Thursday, April 28th at 6:30 p.m.

Donors will receive an origami crane, folded by hand from a UND student from Japan. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross for crisis relief in Japan.

For more info, contact Matt Hiller at (701) 777-423.

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