Japan Earthquake Response 2012

In 2012, Japan was devastated by an incredible earthquake.  The TRI jumped into action inviting university students, staff and the students of surrounding K-12 schools to participate in a “Letters of Encouragement” project.  The project involved writing letters to individuals most impacted by the disaster.  Many of us wanted to help in substantive ways even though we knew that the people most effected had a good system in place for recovery.

We collected over 600 letters from northern Oregon and southern Washington, and were able to translate them into Japanese prior to hand delivering them to the Sendai province with the help of Dr. Rie Yabuki-DiCorcia, a professor of psychology at TCU (Tokyo City University).

On the first year anniversary of these events, the TRI received the following thank you note.  The letters that our community sent have truly been encouraging to both children and adults most impacted by this devastating disaster.

 Japan Photo 2

Dear Prof. Anna Berardi,

March 8, 2012

I am a professor teaching applied linguistics at Tohoku Gakuin University. Prof. Rie Yabuki kindly sent forward us the message cards  from you and your friends. I deeply appreciate your effort to encourage young people who experienced the Great Eastern Japan Earthquakes. Thank you very much.

I am terribly sorry for not letting you know where and to whom the messages were sent. I should have thanked you for the encouragement earlier but I have had no time for that.

Now let me tell you what I did with the wonderful message cards. I received them in mid May, 2011. I took all the message cards written by students of George Fox University (and surrounding k-12 schools) to my classes so that my students, many of who were affected by the quake and the nuclear plant accident, could read them. My students loved all the cards. They said that they were heartened and comforted by the heart-warming messages. I photocopied most of the cards and asked my students to write any responses to each message. 180 students did it.

Then, I asked some of my students to make some posters with the message cards from George Fox University students (and students of k-12 surrounding schools). The posters were placed in the main building of our university so that many people could read the messages. When US Ambassador John Roos visited Tohoku Gakuin University, these posters were presented to him.

Message cards and haiku cranes from Hazel Brook Middle School, Fircrest School, Terreborne (and surrounding) Community Schools were also posted on large sheets of color paper and handed to teachers of the following junior and senior high schools. Onagawa 1st and 2nd Junior High Schools are located in an area which was completely devastated by the tsunami. Two posters and paper quilt were handed to English teachers of the schools.

The message cards you sent us did encourage us very much. We received a strong message that you guys care us. Thank you indeed.

I learned that young people have a strong power to support each other. Their devotion to reconstruction of Eastern Japan is very impressive.  Another thing we did was to translate all captions into English in a photo book of the disaster published by a local newspaper company

The quake, the tsunami and the nuclear plant disaster have all inflicted devastating damages on Eastern Japan and the people living here. There is a long way to go in front of us for recovery from the disasters. We are getting together and struggling for future keeping your messages in mind. I hope you and your students watch over us from the US and believe Japan’s reconstruction.

Arigatoo gozaimashita. (Thank you very much)

Hitoshi Muranoi

Professor, Chair

Department of English

Tohoku Gakuin University



(Volunteers working in Ishinomaki City by Tohoku Gakuin University students)