UTSA community supports fundraiser by Japanese Club to aid quake relief

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(April 15, 2011)--After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, UTSA Japanese Club members and friends began fundraising efforts on the UTSA Main and Downtown campuses. After six days of collecting donations, the Japanese Club surpassed the initial goal of $3,000 and raised more than $4,000 to be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.

Because the disaster occurred when many students and staff were away during the spring break, the UTSA community could not do much at the time. But, immediately after the break, the Japanese Club teamed with the East Asia Institute, students from Japan and Japanese studies students to organize the fundraiser for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief.

Lasting approximately six minutes, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake affected much of Japan. It is the most powerful earthquake to ever hit the country and triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves that struck the northeast coast minutes after the quake. More than 11,000 people were killed, 2,800 injured and more than 16,000 went missing. Countless buildings were damaged or destroyed including roads, railways and a dam.

"My friends and I could not enjoy our spring break as we were constantly checking with friends and family members to see if they were all safe back in Japan," said Mao Yamada, a UTSA communications student from Japan. "I am very glad that our campus organized a fundraiser to help the Japanese victims in the affected areas in Tohoku."

The Japanese Club received various Japanese cultural items, snacks and drinks from several members and volunteers including wristbands engraved with "We are with you, Japan." Money was collected and the club members gave out the gifts as tokens of their appreciation.

The volunteer group started off small. Gradually, more and more people offered their time and effort including Japanese Club members, the East Asia Institute student workers and administrator, students from Japan, the organization Anime Kurabu, domestic students and kind strangers not affiliated with any group. The atmosphere was lively.

"I was excited to see the number of people who came to assist at the event," said Angelica Gonzales, a UTSA student minoring in Japanese studies. "I was also impressed by the generosity of the UTSA community that shows their support for Japan in this very difficult time."

Special thanks go to all UTSA faculty, staff, students and administrators who stopped by the booths to bring their donations. Kudos also go to those who volunteered their time and efforts in the fundraiser.

"It has been an honor for the Japanese Club at UTSA to sponsor this donation drive," said Alice Duong, president of the club. "It shows the international communities should come together and support each other in this type of humanitarian relief. The Japanese Club was glad to host this event for a good cause."