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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Japanese students feel helpless in quake's wake

Doing what they can from afar

Japanese students, professor do what they can to help, from afar.

By Robb Murray, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 3/15/2011]

Japanese students attending Minnesota State Mankato felt help­less.

But instead of sitting around simply hoping for the best for their loved ones in Japan, they decided to do about the only thing a group of Japanese stu­dents could do: They asked for money.

Each of the Japanese students has contacted their families, and they are all safe. But each laments the fact that their homeland is suffering.

Sachi Sekimoto, a communication studies faculty member, was in Tokyo when the quake hit and had to leave Japan Saturday to return for the resumption of classes after spring break.

“Everything started shaking around quarter to 3,” she said. “It lasted quite a long time. It was shaking forever and I thought my house was going to come down. It lasted over a minute or two. All I could think was ‘please stop.’” After the quake, she said, the tsunami warning came right away.

“It kept growing stronger and stronger every second, and my house was shaking.”

It was hard for her to get on that plane home, a flight that was delayed several hours because so many roads were closed.

She plans to be a source of strength and support for the students on campus from Japan. And she’s working with the same students who set up that donation table in the Centennial Student Union Monday.

The students belong to the Japan Intercultural Association, and they are collecting donations all week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sachi Saito said her family lives about two hours from Sendai, among the hardest hit of all cities affected by the quake and ensuing tsunami. Communication was difficult, she said.

Her family lives on high ground and was unaffected by the tsunami waves. But their food supply is dwindling, Saito said. Sitting in Mankato makes it difficult to hearing such news.

Copyright 2011, The Free Press, Mankato.

For the complete Free Press story, see The Free Press print edition or the e-edition at

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