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Students Organizing April 3 Benefit for Japan Relief

Flyer for Claremont Colleges benefit for Japan on April 3, 2011

Following the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, students across the Claremont Colleges began organizing a number of lectures and efforts to raise funds for Japan relief efforts.

Nanako Yano ’11, a resident of Tokyo, formed the Facebook group Claremont Colleges for Japan to help coordinate the different efforts on behalf of Japan that she was beginning to hear about.

“Having grown up in Japan, it has been difficult being here and not being able to assist in the relief efforts,” says Yano. “Many of my friends and family have been affected by the earthquake, and I feel quite helpless being an ocean away. While Claremont Colleges for Japan may not do much monetarily especially compared to other big schools on the East Coast, simply raising awareness about the disaster and seeing the 7Cs come together for one cause has been very rewarding.”

Professor of Japanese Kyoko Kurita, who has many family members living in Tokyo suburbs, has also played a key role, calling a meeting in March of key students across the campuses and coordinating event details.

The group has designated Sunday, April 3, Japan Day across the campuses. At 1:30 p.m., the Japanese film “Maboroshi no hikari” (1995) will be screened Rose Hills Theatre (Smith Campus Center), followed by “Departures” (2008 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film).  At 2 p.m., the Pomona Jazz Band will perform in front of Little Bridges.

At 7 p.m., student music groups will perform in Patterson Court, adjacent to Scripps College’s Garrison Theater (10th and Dartmouth) and the Boone Recital Hall. The events culminate in the Scripps College Benefit Concert for Japan at 8 p.m. (Garrison Theater). The program will include “Psyko Taiko,” a Claremont Colleges student group that plays traditional Japanese drums; piano, vocal, and chamber music selections by faculty and students; and performances by the Chamber Choir and Scripps Dance. Images of Sendai’s temples and gardens will be shown in the background. There is no charge to attend the concert, though donations for relief efforts in Myagi Prefecture will be gratefully accepted. Claremont Colleges for Japan will be selling t-shirts and having a bake sale.

Other events have included a bake sale (which raised more than $800), folding 1,000 paper cranes as part of the Million Crane Project, and helping to publicize lectures on related events.  All proceeds raised by Claremont Colleges for Japan will also be sent to the Miyagi Prefecture.

According to Kurita, “Everyone involved felt it was really important that the money raised for relief go directly to the area and the people with the most need. Our wish was to help the schools, but the City of Sendai is not equipped to receive donations so we are sending to the Miyagi Prefecture where Sendai is located.”

Sam Holden ’12 has been involved in the planning and support of many of the events. Though he’s from Colorado, he’s had strong ties to Japan since being an exchange student in that country in high school. “I go back every year to stay with my host family and friends and to travel and do research,” he says, “[and] countless Japanese people have shown me enormous kindness and generosity over the last five years. I spent spring break glued to the news coming out of Japan AND wanted to help. Knowing that it will be several months until there will be a need for volunteers in the region, being involved in fundraising efforts on campus has helped me to move past the initial shock of the disaster and start looking towards the future.”

Among the things helping to buoy Holden is that he’s found that, “Claremont is a place where people aren't only aware of what's going on in the world, but where community members try to have an positive impact on the world, in their everyday lives and in their careers.  While our efforts to help Japan may have only a small financial impact, the response of the community has convinced me that students and staff will certainly do great things in the world in bigger ways in the future.