When my mom first called me over to her computer claiming there was a great opportunity for me, I began to wonder what she found. As it turned out, there was a program called Japanese Tamago – a course in which students could learn the Japanese language and culture. Recently, I became a consumer of popular Japanese media such as anime, manga, and Jpop. Out of curiosity, I decided to apply for the program to see what it was like, as I honestly didn’t know what to expect from it. However, throughout my year in Japanese Tamago, I can say with confidence that this course was worth it. I learned the Japanese language, culture, history, geography, and I had the opportunity to listen to amazing speakers from a variety of backgrounds. Personally, my favorite part was learning about the different prefectures such as Hiroshima or Okinawa. Although I have to say, Osaka was my favorite. Japanese Tamago has enriched my life by giving me a new perspective on things as minor as entering a guest’s house. Furthermore, I now understand all the hard work and dedication of those learning a new language, as I found it to be a difficult but rewarding process. I am so thankful I was a part of this remarkable program, and I hope others join in the future.
Everyone understands that there are problems in the world. Furthermore, there are inciting events and catalysts to those problems that create them, or make them worse. One of the issues my country, the United States of America, is currently facing is racism towards Asian Americans. The new surge of unwanted and violent actions towards this minority is due to the Coronavirus Pandemic currently plaguing our lives. However, from reading articles about the subject matter at hand, I realized there is a trend popping up in each of these sorts of events. There is always a political or social figure of importance influencing the opinions of the American people. More often than not, these people tend to sway the perception of the minority being targeted in a more negative light.
A modern example that comes to mind is Donald Trump calling the Covid-19 virus the “China Virus,” or “Kung-flu,” painting the Chinese people and Chinese Americans in a negative light. As Donald Trump is a former American president, he had a lot of power and influence over the civilians in our nation. This occurrence itself may not have started the wave of racism towards Asian-Americans, but it was one of many inciting incidents that rapidly increased the violent outbursts towards the community. However, this is nothing new. I read some articles speaking about many historical events that gave Asian Americans a bad name, especially at the time. One of these incidents is the Japanese internment camps during World War II, in which many Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans were mistreated and hurt. Even Dr. Seuss, a popular children’s storybook writer, was the artist who drew racist cartoons about the Asian community, as shown below.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on 3-11-2011, the students in our online Japanese Tamago program used video and other resources to learn about the horrific events that unfolded that day. The goal was to help our DC students connect with the experience and the residents of Tohoku, and to try to imagine themselves in the moment. Here are some of their immediate responses.
By Zoe Roell
Ground splits Black waves Homes fall Lives collapse Wreckage The world grieves
By Hallie Munsat
In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami occurred on the pacific coast of Tohuku in Japan. The magnitude of the earthquake came to be 9.0-9.1. This terrible tragedy turned out to be the most recent deadliest earthquake. It left almost 16,000 people dead, about 6,000 injured and 2,500 people missing. Now ten years after the fact it’s still left many people unstable emotionally and financially. I cannot even begin to imagine what being in that situation is like. It’s bad enough to experience it in the moment, it’s worse to live with it for the rest of your life. This was an event that couldn’t really have been prevented. It’s terrifying to go through things you can’t control and it takes time to process things like that. We have to be gentle to ourselves and others during hard times and we have to be there for each other to listen, and to support. Because of the severity of this event, many people in the same community went through the same thing. There’s always someone to listen to or understand because no one is alone.
By Penelope Morris
At first, I almost couldn’t believe that three events that would by themselves have been horrific to deal with, all happened simultaneously and hurt so many people. But the damage was right there in front of my eyes.
By Kourtney Beauvais
My initial reaction to the film of 3/11 was shock. I wasn’t aware of how fast the devastation occurred, and couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to be there. With the recurring earthquakes, I assume that the residents of the area had very conflicting emotions, flicking back and forth between hope and desperation and fear. It makes me wonder if they were thinking about what was happening in the present, what the future consequences would be, or a mixture of both. It was also saddening to think of the feeling of loss, not only of belongings and a familiar landscape, but of their family, friends, and community.
By Sakarrio Moore
I’ve never experienced any tragedy of this magnitude, and I literally can’t imagine the physiological response of people who lived there. I just feel so sorry. I imagine that in the instant, people would have just felt as if the world itself was against them.
By Akesh Mallia
My reflection on 3-11 is that it was really heartbreaking to see so many lives impacted by something as uncontrollable as nature. I thought it was especially scary when the tsunami hit the people trying to escape by car, those people couldn’t even evacuate. And the impacts of the natural disasters are very much still present today, especially with the nuclear meltdown which I think shows the scale of the earthquake. I hope safety measures and public awareness measures are being put in place to prevent this type of event from happening again.
By Owen Strasberg
I found it interesting how initially even though the situation seemed very chaotic, people were handling it calmly (like when everyone was evacuating). It was sort of scary though to think that whatever high ground people stayed at was where they would have to be for the whole thing, and you would just have to hope it was safe enough.
By Dara Lira
If I previously lived in Japan, I would probably not pay much attention to the earthquake at first. However, as the day progresses, I would become more scared, confused, disturbed, and shocked at the events unfolding before me. A matter of life or death such as this terrifies me, and I can hardly imagine what this was actually like, especially seeing as I’ve never been in an earthquake before.
By Chamiya Carnathan
The amount of earthquakes that appeared continuously during March 11 was mind blowing to me. I can’t imagine how scary the situation must have been for everyone inhabiting that area. Earthquakes are common in Japan and I wonder if the inhabitants living in the affected area thought that it would be a regular occurrence. I truly cannot imagine the fear of earthquakes that were that large being struck down on me. The biggest takeaway that I gained from watching the video and map is that you have to go to high ground. Don’t worry about taking pictures and videos or watching what’s happening. Worry about your own safety and go to high ground.
By Camila Marryshow
If anyone had known March 11, 2011 would have submerged entire towns in water along with thousands of other civilians fighting for their lives, there would have been preventative action to protect the people along Japan’s east coast. But there was no way of knowing the events that would unfold within those 24 hours.
Employees worked to earn their pay to support themselves and their families. Graduations occurred. Earning diplomas, congratulating friends, and celebrating achievements of other students would soon be replaced with sheltering in place under desks, evacuating school and office buildings, and rushing to higher ground to ensure safety. Some walked away with missing friends while others without families to provide for. Some could not walk away from their cars with water impeding their ability to escape while others would never walk the Earth again. The tsunami stripped towns of commerce, buildings, history, and many of its residents.
Within 24 hours, several earthquakes evolved into a 9.1-magnitude earthquake that generated waves many meters high devastating hundreds of square miles of Japanese land. Over 120,000 buildings were destroyed. More than 100,000 people lost their homes. Nearly 20,000 people died.
The Tohoku region of Japan along with other coastal areas have worked over the past ten years to rebuild Japan and provide housing to those who are in need. The survivors who witnessed the events of that day will be able to not only recount the suffering numerous people endured, but can speak of the recovery and progress the Japanese people have made from the rubble of the tragedy.