Fundraiser: Japan, one year post-disaster

Illustration by Brandy Pickering

It’s been one year.
This time last year, Japan was dealing with a major natural disaster. While a year seems like a long time and the Japanese disaster has left the minds of the media, the problem is a long way from being over. The Japanese Support Team on campus is still planning outreach.
The Support Team is hosting a fundraiser on Friday, March 9, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at the BC cafeteria. The event is taking place to commemorate and give aid to the victims of the Tohoku earthquake, the resulting tsunami, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 11 2011. The Japanese Support Team hopes to both raise money for the cause and awareness about it. Homemade Japanese traditional food like Miso soup, Onigiri rice balls, and green tea sweets will be sold, along with embroidered towel sets.
The event, according to Katherine Nordell, advisor of the Japanese Support Team, aims to educate the guests about the culture of the Japanese, and their resilience since the tragedy. It also seeks to document the progress made in rebuilding the Tohoku region. The funds raised by the event will go to the victims of the earthquake to help build homes and provide basic needs like food, clothing and more.
“Our hope is to remember what happened and show people at BC what an amazing job Japan has done in rebuilding the Tohoku region,” said Nordell.
The Japanese Support Team is a student club at BC that was founded last year by Eriko Kurosaki, a Japanese student herself, in the end of March 2011 following the tragic event.
“As a Japanese I felt like I had to do something for them,” she said. She asked Katherine Nordell who was her instructor to be the advisor of the club. Nordell, herself, has lived in Japan and speaks Japanese.
The club has about six members today, but many more volunteers. “I was amazed by how many Japanese people are enrolled at Bellevue College,” Kurosaki said, referring to the 130 international Japanese students at BC.
“I want to show my appreciation to the students of BC who helped us out for the past events” said Kurosaki. This is the last event that will be hosted by the Japanese Support Team. Next quarter most members of the club, including Kurosaki, the creator, Natsuko Hirama, the current vice president and Takuma Matsushita, the current president, are leaving BC to transfer to other colleges.
Last quarter the Team co-sponsored an event with the BC Ski & Ride club and collected winter clothes to send to northern Japan, the area most affected by the tragedy.
This even could be a good opportunity to create a charity club instead of the Japanese Support Team, but the prospect of that working isn’t too promising right now with all the key members of the current team leaving.
Almost one year ago, the 9.0 magnitude of the Tohuku earthquake, just off the eastern coast of Japan, caused a devastating tsunami. Tohuku was the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since 1900 and is also the most powerful known earthquake to ever hit Japan.
The tragedy destroyed millions of homes and took an estimate of 20,000 lives, but the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant released radiation that has and will harm the region for years to come.
“We hope lots of folks turn out to support this event!” said Katherine Nordell, hoping that BC students will use this lunch hour on Friday to support the cause of the Tohoku tragedy.