September 21, 2011
This weekend, 10 Ohio University students studying in Japan will assist with relief efforts in areas affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Nine of the students are enrolled at Chubu University in Nagoya, and one is studying at Musashi University in Tokyo.
Christopher Thompson, associate professor of Japanese language and culture and director of the OU-Japan study abroad programs, is coordinating travel to the Iwate prefecture, the area most affected by the disaster. Thompson, along with Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences Thomas Scanlan, will accompany the students.
"This effort reflects a commitment by the College of Arts and Sciences to explore ways to integrate service learning into our curriculum, and I am very proud to be a part of it," said Scanlan.
In addition to the College of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Student Affairs and the Provost's Office have donated to the program, making the trip more affordable for attending students. More than $8,500 has been raised to support travel, lodging and food for the three-day trip to Hanamaki, Iwate, in northeast Japan. Each participating student also contributed $150.
Senior international studies major Laney Knight said she is looking forward to actively supporting the disaster relief. Knight intended to study in Japan last March, but her trip was postponed due to the threat of nuclear radiation following the earthquake and tsunami.
"So now we get to go, and the thing that stopped us, we actually get to help with," she said. "We all did donate as much as we could to the Red Cross, but now we actually get to physically do something. It's going to be really great to actually make a difference."
Thompson said he hopes Ohio University's service will help build morale in the affected region and pave the way for future student volunteer opportunities.
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