January 28, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Tsunami Relief: What the People Need

College of Arts & Sciences students and faculty made their third trip to Iwate, Japan, this fall as part of tsunami relief efforts.

Ohio University volunteers clean the river as the salmon return.

Ohio University volunteers clean the river as the salmon return.

While the physical devastation remains, they witnessed the emotional devastation that still runs deep.

This year, they joined in a water distribution project. “Two-and-a-half years after [the disaster], the purpose of delivering water, we learned, was not the water itself, but in maintaining the human relationships that have been built during these times,” the students reported to Dr. Christopher Thompson, Chair of the Linguistics Department in the Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences and Executive Director of Japan Relations.

“At one temporary village, these ladies were quite enthusiastic about the future, but we also went to homes where the residents were too depressed to come out. It was quite a humbling experience.”

On their first trip three years ago, the residents asked them to change plans once they arrived. Instead of visiting a school they waded into a river—amid the salmon that had just returned—to clean out debris so that the salmon could spawn and continue a life cycle important to the village.

Read more about their experiences in Compass.


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