UCSD Student Coalition Organized to Help Victims

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SAN DIEGO — Students at UC San Diego have banded together to help the victims of Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

The effort was initiated by UC San Diego’s Japanese Student Association, composed of first- and second-generation Japanese American students.

“Most of us have family in Japan or friends who are currently studying there,” said Yuta Morinaga, communications chair for the organization. “We naturally felt that something had to be done.”

Morinaga and the rest of the JSA have formed a coalition, Help Japan, with other student organizations to raise at least $10,000 to help the victims; all proceeds will go to relief efforts. For more information and to donate, visit the Help Japan donation website.

Morinaga personally has felt the devastation of the earthquake. “I have an aunt and uncle who were near the oil refinery fire in Chiba,” he said. “There were a couple of days when I could not get a hold of them. We received an e-mail from them the other day, but it’s been very worrisome.”

Help Japan involves students at the UC San Diego Rady School of Management, International House, and School of International Relations/Pacific Studies. In addition, students enrolled at UC San Diego Extension who are on the exchange program from Japan have joined the movement.

“We’re so pleased by the support we’ve received from the campus,” Morinaga said. “We know we couldn’t have done this much alone.”

Students held fundraisers March 16 and 17, selling onigiri to collect cash donations. Additionally, on Tuesday, March 29, Tapioca Express will give a 5 percent discount to customers, with 15 percent of all proceeds from the day going to the Help Japan donation funds.

Morinaga added that students in the organization have been supporting each other in the emotional aftermath of the quake. “To watch the news and see the houses being demolished, it’s horrifying,” he said. “Although we can’t help the victims with hands-on support, we want to do as much as we can here.”

On Thursday, March 31, during the JSA’s annual event, “Matsuri,” students will have a donation booth and will make 1,000 paper cranes to send to the victims in Japan. The festival is one of the few authentic Japanese events featuring food and games from the region. In addition, there will be live entertainment and performances from the SoulRun Bushi traditional Japanese dance team, Alex Shiau aka Vision, the Kendo Club, Judo Team and others.

The UCSD International Center has been offering open forums where counselors from the Counseling and Psychological Services office are available to speak with any students and scholars directly or indirectly impacted by the tragedy in Japan.

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