Students here at the College of William and Mary are doing their part to help the victims of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan March 11 and resulted in hundreds of deaths and immeasurable destruction.
To raise awareness about the situation, the Japan Relief Initiative held a candlelight vigil on Monday in coordination with the Japanese Cultural Association and the Japanese Language House.
“The vigil [took] place on the one month anniversary,” former JCA co-president Isshin Teshima ’11 said. “It is a time to reflect, see what [the College] has done and where we’re going.”
Students and faculty gathered in the Wren Yard at 8 p.m.with candles in hand. After a slideshow depicting the effects of the disaster and showcasing the College’s support, light was passed from candle to candle until dozens of small lights filled the yard.
“I feel solemn but hopeful,” Marquis Stokes ’12 said after the ceremony. “We are making a difference, no matter how small.”
The ceremony concluded with words from Hiroshi Kitamura, co-director o East Aian Studies, and Steven Pau ’14, who discussed the ways in which the situation in Japan has personally affected them and urged attendees to remember Japan as time goes on. They expressed their worry that people are beginning to forget about Japan and that people are under the impression that Japan is a nation capable of handling this situation on its own.
“The moment anything else big happens, that event gets forgotten,” Stokes said. “We have to remind people that this is a situation that isn’t going to be solved in a month, two months or even a year.”
The JRI, which is a group of undergraduates, graduates, staff and faculty that formed the week after the earthquake in Japan, led the vigil. The goal of the group is to raise awareness and facilitate recovery and relief efforts for those affected by the disaster, mainly acting as an information resource.
“This might be the second biggest disaster since the second World War,” Kitamura said. “We have to continue to seek ways to support people in northern Japan.”