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Source: Kumiko Nakamura, 785-532-1921, kanakamu@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847, jtorline@k-state.edu

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

JAPANESE LANGUAGE STUDENTS USE PAPER CRANES, POETRY TO REACH OUT TO EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

MANHATTAN – A group of students in Kansas State University's Japanese language program has turned an annual paper crane folding project into a way to help the victims of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

So far, their efforts have raised nearly $1,000 for Japan and its victims, said Kumiko Nakamura, director of K-State's Japanese language program. The students will accept donations during Saturday's All-University Open House at the modern language department table, downstairs in the K-State Student Union.

Every spring, the students in the Japanese language program, part of in K-State's modern languages department, create a "sembazuru" -- a thousand paper crane chain -- to send to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the 1945 nuclear attack. The project is meant to promote awareness and understanding of the history between the United States and Japan.

This year, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami occurred around the same time the students were beginning to fold the paper cranes.

Students approached Nakamura to see if they could do something to help the Japanese. One student asked if they could send the paper cranes to the Tohoku region instead of Hiroshima.

"My family was affected by the Great Chuetsu earthquake in 2004, and as a survivor of the Great Kobe earthquake in 1995, I knew origami isn't the most helpful for the people in the affected area now," Nakamura said. "I suggested that we find sponsors for our original project and send all the donations to those who need it the most."

They have received countless donations from friends and families of those involved in the Japanese language program, as well as from people in the Manhattan community.

A group of third-year Japanese students also translated the poem written by Japanese singer-songwriter Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi about the earthquake. The poem was written and published earlier this month and expresses the devastated feelings of the Japanese people.

The students' translation was presented at the Central Kansas Japanese Festival, April 9, as part of K-State's International Week. The translation is now displayed outside the Japanese language program office in 106 Eisenhower Hall.

The students continue to fold paper cranes for the project. For more information regarding the program's fundraising efforts or to schedule a photo opportunity, contact Nakamura at 785-532-1921 or kanakamu@k-state.edu.