The earthquake and tsunami in Japan has been heartbreaking for many, but for some Vol State students it truly is hitting close to home. Yuko Tanaka is a Japanese student here at Vol State. She has been involved with the VISA club on campus. They have been instrumental in putting together a fundraiser to allow students, staff, and faculty an opportunity to help tsunami victims. She shared what it was like the day of the earthquake and tsunami.
“My family lives in and around Tokyo, they told me how bad and how scared they felt during the earthquake. I also have a friend that is a teacher and I was unable to contact him for ten days. Finally, he contacted us to let us know he was okay. He said that alarms notified them of both the earthquake and the tsunami. They loaded up all the kids in vehicles and drove them to high ground where all of them stayed safe.”
Yuko requested the assistance of her friend Midori Tanaka (no relation) who is also from Japan, and lives in Tennessee, to help with the fundraiser. They worked with the VISA club to set up a table in the Wood Campus Center and then wrote people's names in Japanese and also made oragami birds for donations.
Midori was actually in Japan shopping with friends during the quake.
“The mall shook for five minutes and I ran outside," she said. "At first there was not a lot of panic, but people got scared from all of the aftershocks. One quake moved all the furniture in my bedroom around and knocked over the TV and dresser. We left six days after the tsunami.”
On Saturday, Yuko and the rest of the VISA club attended the Cherry Blossom Festival Walk in downtown Nashville. Due to the tragedy in Japan, this annual event was turned into a fundraiser for the Tennessee Tomodachi Fund, with 100 percent of the donations going directly to relief agencies in Japan. Yuko was proud to share a check from donations raised on campus totaling $1472.11 which she passed over to Leigh Wieland, who is the Executive Director of Japan-America Society of Tennessee, Inc.
Yuko said, “People here in Tennessee have been very kind and worried about me. Even people I don’t know have expressed concern for my friends and family in Japan. I have been fortunate because most of my contacts have been further inland.”
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