Students Raise Money for Relief Efforts in Japan

BY JENNY PAUL

In the week after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, a group of law school students with family and friends in the country banded together to collect donations for the Japanese Red Cross.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11, killing more than 9,500 people and leaving more than 16,000 missing, according to the New York Times.

Harvard University students were on spring break when the disaster occurred, but when they returned, students quickly put together Harvard for Japan, a university-wide alliance dedicating to aid in relief efforts. The law school students are working as part of this effort, and spent the week of March 21-25 collecting donations at a table in Harkness Commons. To date, the law school group has raised more than $4,100, Yui Hirohashi ’13 said.

“Within the Japanese community at HLS, we have been fortunate enough that, so far as we know, none of our family members have been injured,” Hirohashi said in an email. “However, many of us have family members and friends who have temporarily evacuated Tokyo due to radiation concerns, and we are all closely following news of the nuclear power plant failures.”

Hirohashi, who is from Kyoto, Japan, said she and other students at the law school had a meeting over spring break and decided the most effective way to help was to collect donations that would reach Japan.

“Watching the events unfold, the various videos and images of the damaged areas, was a personally very jarring experience,” she said. “I felt like I had to do something constructive to react to the situation and contribute in my own way. I didn’t want to just sit at home feeling helpless and anxious.”

Takahide Kobayshi, a visiting scholar at the law school, manned the table on Thursday, March 24, during lunch hour, handing out origami cranes to everyone who donated to the relief effort. He said the cranes were a way of showing gratitude to donors.

“Giving origami cranes we made with our own hands and which have symbolic significance in Japanese culture seemed fitting,” Hirohashi said. “Historically, cranes have symbolized longevity, prosperity, and loyalty because they were believed to mate for life and live a thousand years. Over time, cranes have also come to symbolize hope and healing during difficult times.”

Anyone interested in donating to the relief efforts can do so online at http://harvardforjapan.fas.harvard.edu/. 

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