Ursinus College students, faculty and staff have been greatly concerned about our colleagues at Tohoku Gakuin University, in Sendai, Japan. Sendai was particularly hard hit by last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
Many of the Ursinus faculty and staff have been to Sendai and TGU and have lived with families there. Also, TGU students and faculty/staff have been our guests on the Ursinus campus.
Considered our “sister school,” an American Studies Program has brought TGU students to campus since 1973. Each year in a companion program, Ursinus students spend five weeks in May and June in a Japanese Studies program at TGU.
Over the past weekend, TGU’s web site was down and e-mails were not answered. However, thankfully, we have begun to get reports from our Sendai friends that tell us that although there is little or no power, transportation or water, and they live among extensive building damage, their spirit is strong and they seem to be coping. As a relatively inland school on a plateau, TGU was at least spared the tsunami. As each day goes by, more Ursinus students are hearing that their former host families are safe, and our professors have heard from a few colleagues. We have heard that the 2009 American Studies Program members are safe, and we have heard back from almost all from 2010. There are also reports that TGU is helping others who need housing.
In the coming days, our faculty, staff and community service leaders will encourage our campus to consider outreach that will help our TGU counterparts, and other earthquake victims in Japan. The students in our Japanese Club and other groups are exploring what they can do to help. Our deepest sympathy goes out to our TGU colleagues, including my counterpart, President Nozomu Hoshimiya, and to the people of Japan and elsewhere who have been affected by this horrendous disaster.
John E. F. Corson
President, Ursinus College