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Eyewitness Proof of Her Family on TV

UCR Extension Student Has Eyewitness Proof of Her Family in Japan

Sunday night she saw her sister holding a sign

(March 14, 2011)

Akiko Kosaka, 20, smiles through her tears as she describes worrying about her family and then finding out that they had survived the tsunami that wiped out her village of Minamisanriku. Photo by Kris LovekinEnlarge

Akiko Kosaka, 20, smiles through her tears as she describes worrying about her family and then finding out that they had survived the tsunami that wiped out her village of Minamisanriku. Photo by Kris Lovekin

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- A 20-year-old woman studying English at UC Riverside Extension watched the destruction of Minamisanriku, Japan, her home town, on television. On Sunday night, Akiko Kosaka, had evidence that her family was okay.

She actually saw her sister holding a sign on TV,” said Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, an associate dean at UCR Extension. “I just can’t believe it that she found them that way. What are the chances? Everybody is just jumping for joy.”

"At first I couldn't believe it," said Akiko, who is the middle child of three daughters in her family. "But then I received so many emails and phone calls. I was very, very, very glad to see my older sister." She called the weekend of wondering about her family "the hardest time ever" in her life.

Cynthia Welle, coordinator for international student services at UCR Extension, said that all 109 students at the education center have been able to contact family and friends to get news. She said they had been exceptionally worried about Akiko because she was so distraught at seeing the news footage of the tsumami wiping out the familiar landscape of her village of 17,000 people.

A YouTube video included below shows the footage from Japanese television that eased everyone's mind. It is the 24-year-old sister of Akiko, wanting to get the word to her younger sister in America.


Reporter: What does it say? Is it “Kosaka Family?”

Sister: Yes.

Reporter: It’s okay to speak.

Sister: Because my younger sister is in America… We are all safe.

Reporter: Would you please tell your name?

Sister: I’m Kosaka (Family name).

Reporter: So your family is safe?

Sister: We are all safe.]

There was also good news for the UC’s Education Abroad Program (EAP) with all UC students contacted and accounted for, including the 11 from UCR.

UCR has 23 undergraduate, 12 graduate students, and about 100 University Extension students from Japan – five of them from Sendai, which suffered the major impact of the quake.

Kelly Hinosawa, associate director of the International Education Center, has reached out to UCR undergraduate and graduate students from Japan on the main campus to provide support and resources. A list of Frequently Asked Questions for students is posted on the International Education Center (

In a message to campus on Friday, Chancellor Timothy P. White said, “Our hearts and prayers go out to all affected by the horrific quake off the coast of Japan. We pray for our colleagues throughout Japan, and of course we reach out to our students, faculty and staff in Riverside who are from, or have family and friends, there.”

Sendai is Riverside’s sister city and the home of Tohoku University and Josai universities, which have several research collaborations.

Reza Abbaschian, dean of the Bourns College of Engineering, will participate in discussions about what the city of Riverside can do to help sister city Sendai, Japan.

For any student who feels the need, counseling services are available at the Counseling Center in the north wing of the Veitch Student Center. Walk-ins are welcome between 8:30 and 4:30 p.m. Appointments may be scheduled by calling 951-827-5531. Counseling services are also available evenings or weekends by calling the same number.

Up-to-date information on the earthquake is available on-line through the American Red Cross

Donations may be made through a number of agencies. A fund has already been set up through CARE

If you would like to donate to Red Cross quake relief, you can do so by cell phone. Text redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation. The amount will appear on your next phone bill.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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