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Japan Earthquake Sparks Relief Efforts

UC Riverside Sends Support to Japan

Relief efforts for Japan spring up around campus

(March 23, 2011)

Mark Guillermo, a first year UC Riverside student, writes messages in Tagalog and Japanese to the victims of the disaster in Japan.Enlarge

Mark Guillermo, a first year UC Riverside student, writes messages in Tagalog and Japanese to the victims of the disaster in Japan.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- The UC Riverside community is raising money to deliver some relief to wide swaths of Japan devastated by an earthquake, a tsunami and nuclear power radiation.

Because Sendai is a sister city of Riverside, UCR has forged a number of relationships with Japanese institutions, including Tohoku University in Sendai, Josai University and Josai International University in Tokyo, and 18 others. At the time of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, UCR had 12 graduate students, 23 undergraduates and 109 extension students who are from Japan. In addition, 11 UCR students were studying in Japan at the time the earthquake hit. They are all safe. They have all been asked to come back to Riverside.

Chancellor Timothy P. White, who has offered places at UCR for Tohoku students unable to finish their degrees because of the disaster, commended both campus staff and students on their rapid response to those in need.

“Even though it was finals week, students made time to support Japanese students at UCR and even planned fundraising events for disaster victims,” he said. “And from the moment the news broke, our leadership and staff sprang into action to support our students round the clock.”

Students from UCR’s student chapter of the American Red Cross got right to work in collecting donations by setting up a table near the Highlander Union Building last week. They raised more than $1,000. They documented their efforts in a YouTube video. On Wednesday, March 30, the same group will set up a donation table again during a blood drive near Olmstead Hall.

Students from UC Riverside Extension collected money for the Red Cross with a quick fundraiser that rewarded donors with hugs. Also, Extension students are making 1,500 bookmarks to be sold, with profits going to quake victims UCR’s International Education Center will be sponsoring the signing of a banner of condolence and remembrance for Tohoku University, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day between March 28 and April 1 at the bell tower.

May is designated at Asian Pacific Heritage Month and many activities planned for that time will make a connection to earthquake recovery. There are groups planning arts performances at the downtown ARTSblock and festivals at UC Riverside Extension, as well as a YouTube event being organized by the Associated Student Programs Board. Details are not yet set.

Two students at UC Riverside Extension and one UC Riverside staff member have received national and international media attention because of their stories related to the disaster in Japan.

Akiko Kosaka is from a town that was overcome by the tsunami. She had visual proof of the survival of her family through Japanese TV news and a clip posted on YouTube.

Maaya Suzuki is from Iwake, a town about 50 kilometers from the compromised nuclear power plant. Her family survived the disasters, but her father, Umashi Suzuki, is a physician treating people who are suffering from exposure to the weather and injuries sustained in the disaster. She has returned to Japan now to try to help her family and friends.

Also, Maria Mendoza, a library assistant at UCR, has a son, Steve who teaches high school near the quake epicenter. She spent three days trying to reach him and finally succeeded.

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.

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