Send Terps to Japan to Learn About Disaster Recovery
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan, causing a massive tsunami and critically damaging the Fukushima nuclear power plants. The Tohoku region in northeast Japan was the most heavily affected. Nearly 16,000 people died.
Yet the people of Japan endured, and began the long and ongoing process of recovery.
Tohoku has lessons for the world: lessons of resilience, perseverence, and creativity.
Our objective is to learn and share these lessons of disaster preparedness and recovery with our own communities throughout Maryland and around the world, while also raising awareness of the ongoing situation in Tohoku.
In March 2015, four years after the March 2011 disaster, University of Maryland students will participate in a one-month program (Terps to Tohoku: "Civil Society, Recovery, and Reform in the Wake of Disaster") that combines online learning, on-campus events, and international exchange.
During 2015 spring break, we will travel to Japan to meet with individuals and organizations involved in Tohoku's disaster recovery, including international NGOs and local NPOs. We will also engage in community service in Sendai with students from Tohoku University, who were personally affected by the disaster.
Before traveling to Japan, we will host March 2011 Remembrance Events open to the public, including special lectures and a documentary screening at UMD.
After returning from Japan, we will hold a public symposium at the University of Maryland, in which we will share stories and lessons from Tohoku, and make recommendations to organizations in our own communities on disaster preparedness and recovery.
The Terps going to Tohoku are 19 undergraduate students representing 24 different majors and minors at the University of Maryland, College Park. This diversity of interests and skills will maximize the program's impact throughout the University of Maryland community and beyond: disaster affects everyone in a community, and everyone has different skills and resources that can contribute to the community's recovery and preparedness efforts.
Terps to Tohoku is an initiative of Beyond the Classroom, a Living-Learning Program of the University of Maryland Office of Undergraduate Studies dedicated to student-led civic engagement, and is an approved short-term study abroad program through the Education Abroad Office.
Beyond the Classroom is coordinating this program in partnership with The Laurasian Institution, a non-profit organization based in Seattle and Tokyo dedicated to strengthening U.S.-Asian ties through educational exchanges. Beyond the Classroom is also collaborating on this program with students and staff of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.
Students participating in this program are self-funded: students are responsible for paying a program fee of $1,850 (covering tuition, housing, in-country transportation, and activities) as well as round-trip airfare-- estimated at $1,800-- and incidental expenses. Your contributions will help each of our students defray these costs.
By helping to send Terps to Tohoku, you will be contributing to our efforts to:
- Forge interpersonal and institutional connections between the University of Maryland and the Tohoku region, in order to learn from each other and to encourage further opportunities for collaboration.
- Spread Tohoku's lessons of recovery and resilience throughout Maryland and the world.
- Strengthen the role of civil society in our own communities and elsewhere.
The Concept of 絆 (Kizuna)
After the March 2011 disaster, the word kizuna (translating to "bond", "relationship", "ties", or "obligation") came to symbolize the Japanese cultural attitude towards disaster. In this context, the notion of kizuna implies that Japan's recovery is only possible because of the interconnectedness of people at all levels of society and the sense of duty that individuals have to each other as human beings.
Kizuna is a concept central to Japan's growing culture of volunteerism and community service, and is a concept we hope to explore more deeply through this program. This is why we would like to express our gratitude to our supporters in terms of the type of kizuna or "bond" you share with us.
Connect with Beyond the Classroom and keep up with Terps to Tohoku by liking us on Facebook, and by following us and using the hashtag #TerpsToTohoku on Twitter.
Many thanks to Paul Champaloux and Misa Oyama for allowing us the use of their photos of the Tohoku region! Additional thanks to the music group The Kyoto Connection, for making their song "Shine for the Rest of Us" (featured in our promotional video) available for use via the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license.
Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents. Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please see your tax advisor for details.