Students, faculty studying in Japan are safe
Washington University students studying in Japan are all safe, according to an e-mail from Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton to the University community on Thursday afternoon.
The Chancellor released an email to the community announcing that some students and faculty who were in Japan during the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster have decided to return to the US while others have chosen to remain in Japan. Wrighton urged any affected students to seek help from the University.
Nearly 60 Japanese students are enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at the University. The University is recommending that they check the Google crisis response website to try to find their families.
“A lot of students of course had trouble reaching family members, but most of the students we’ve heard from have been able to reach their family members,” Kathy Steiner-Lang, an Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars said. “Many people know somebody who’s had buildings destroyed or homes destroyed, friends and relatives that had damage or couldn’t be reached.”
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the northeast coast of Japan last Friday that caused a tsunami also to hit the nation. Thousands perished in the disaster, and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has suffered a likely partial meltdown.
Students in the Heisei Japan Club are planning a week of events after spring break to make sure that fundraisers and relief efforts are coordinated.
“Today, nearly 500 Washington University alumni live in Japan. We also have many faculty and staff who were born in Japan, some whom still have close family living there. Over the past few days we have heard from many of those individuals, and we know that this disaster has been understandably devastating for them,” Wrighton wrote.
The students studying in Japan were for the most part in the southern part of the country.
Three undergraduate students were studying at Doshisha University in Kyoto. The distance between Kyoto and Sendai, where most of the damage was, is about 450 miles, or the distance between Boston and D.C.
“We are monitoring the situation,” Mark Beirn, the Associate Director of the Overseas Program said. “One student indicated they didn’t actually feel anything [from the earthquake].
Currently, the students are staying in Japan.
“It’s unlikely the impact [of a nuclear meltdown] would extend to the Kyoto area, is what I’m being told from our resident director in Kyoto,” Beirn said.