UW-Madison: Japanese students spearhead UW-Madison relief efforts

CONTACT: Yumi Kusunoki, 773-366-2312, [email protected]

MADISON – Following the events of the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan on March 11, members of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Japanese community are working together to assist relief efforts despite being far from home. Their work is only one part of the relief effort under way on the UW-Madison campus.

Yumi Kusunoki, a graduate student in ethnomusicology, is a Japanese student helping to centralize information, both for fundraising efforts and assistance to those with family or friends in Japan. By coordinating efforts through the newly formed Japanese Tsunami Relief student organization (JTR), the group hopes to maximize the impact while providing a safe and credible place for donations.

“A dollar, or the change in your pocket, can make people in Japan smile,” says Kusunoki. “Even if it is difficult for you to donate money, please come to our events to say hi to us. We would love to thank you for your caring.”

Kusunoki and Sayako Akita, an exchange student from Japan’s Keio University who is also studying on campus this semester, are also co-organizers of the Taste of Japan event. Co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Global Connections program and International Student Services (ISS), the event features food from Restaurant Muramoto and presentations about Japanese life, culture, technology and more.

Taste of Japan takes place on Thursday, March 24 from 6-8 p.m. in the On Wisconsin room of the Red Gym, 716 Langdon St. The event is free, but donations will be accepted for Japanese relief. Members of the China Economic Forum will also take part. All donations will go to the Red Cross.

JTR members plan to collect donations at multiple sites across campus during the week of March 21. Donation tables will be set up at the Humanities Building (entrance near library Mall), Van Hise Hall (first floor lobby) and the Chemistry Building (Mills St. lobby) from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. The Humanities Building location will also be open from 4-5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, March 26, JTR will lead a Curry Rice and Origami Workshop in the large gym of the Eagle Heights Community Center. Admission is $5 for ages 12 and up and free for children.

Other local organizations are also joining the effort.

As with the Haiti disaster in 2010, the Red Cross is accepting donations (minimum $10 online). Follow the link to donate online or text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 from a mobile phone. For more information, visit http://newsroom.redcross.org/category/international-updates/japan-earthquake-march-2011/

Members of the UW Credit Union can also donate funds to the Red Cross directly from their accounts. Logging in to Web Branch, a Red Cross icon is visible at the top of the main page. Once clicked, a window will pop up, and members may donate funds directly from any of their UW Credit Union accounts.