Devastated, but Determined: W&M Efforts to Aid Japan

  • Relief and recovery
    Relief and recovery  After the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in at least a century triggered a tsunami in the city of Sendai, faculty, students and staff are banning together to provide short- and long-term assistance through the W&M Japan Recovery Initiative.  Photo courtesy of
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A dozen William & Mary students, faculty and staff have joined forces to create an easy, user-friendly website for people who wish to donate to relief and recovery efforts in Japan.

The W&M Japan Recovery Initiative, launched today, serves as an international tool providing short- and long-term assistance following the recent earthquake and tsunami. The website contains vital information about a slew of organizations that are assisting with the relief efforts.

According to Hiroshi Kitamura, associate professor of history and co-director of the East Asian Studies program, the committee simultaneously developed after the devastation that struck northern Japan on March 11.  Faculty within Asian Studies, staff from the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, and students, including the Japanese Cultural Association and Vietnamese Student Organization, started asking, “What are we going to do about it?”

“We all have a feeling of devastation, but also a determination to help Japan,” said Kitamura.  On Tuesday, committee members met to begin coordinating their efforts. Their first thought was to set up a fund and start collecting donations, but for the sake of time, they decided to hold on a relief fund and serve as a communications tool for those wishing to donate.

The group is just beginning to organize, said Kitamura, but this is the first of many stages for W&M recovery efforts.  They hope to extend their reach and are actively thinking of new ways to reach the College community.

Isshin Teshima ’11, committee member and co-president of the Japanese Cultural Association, said William & Mary students have every intention of continuing the recovery efforts for the long haul.

“Right now, we’re focused on what we can do in the short-term and getting as much help to Japan as possible,” said Teshima.  “The devastation in Japan is a problem that won’t be solved by the end of this semester, nor in a couple of years.”

For more information or to get involved with the W&M Japan Recovery Initiative, contact Hiroshi Kitamura at 757.221.3740 or [[hxkita]].