A massive earthquake and powerful tsunami smashed the coast of Japan last night, causing concern among ACU’s 16 Japanese students.
All of the students who have been able to contact their families have said their families are ok, but some are still having trouble getting through the phone lines, said Laura Blake, assistant director of International Student Services.
“There is relief that families are ok, but definite sadness for their country and concern for country and other losses that have happened,” Blake said. “There is relief that people closest to them are fine, but even with them being ok, things are still a mess.”
The 8.9-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the Japanese coast. Blake said most of the Japanese students are from the Ibaraki or Tokyo areas, located on the eastern coast of Japan.
Maya Ohori, senior communications major from Fukushima, Japan, was abruptly woken up last night by a phone call from her boyfriend. He called to ask her how her parents were doing. Ohori said she turned on the news, saw footage of the devastation in Japan and immediately began calling her parents.
After two hours of intense anxiety and multiple phone calls, Ohori said her parents answered and said they were ok. Ohori said she felt relieved to know her family was ok, but she was still concerned for her country.
“Of course my family is important to me, but also Japan is my country, and I’ve never had something like this experience happen,” Ohori said. “I want to come to Japan right now and help, but since I can’t I just need to pray to God.”
Ohori said fortunately her parents’ house was only damaged on the inside by falling objects from the earthquake. However, she said she knew several families whose homes were destroyed by the quake.
Blake contacted each Japanese student, telling them ACU would reach out to them in any way they could. She encouraged all ACU students to keep Japan in their prayers.
“Just ask how they are doing and encourage them and realize that even though they are far from home, home is heavy on their hearts,” Blake said.