News / USA

Japanese Students in US Look Home with Sorrow, Hope

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Japanese students studying in the U.S. are viewing events back home with frustration and sorrow. For some, the experience is isolating. Others have experienced a wave of goodwill -- and felt a call to action.

Chiya Saito is from the city of Yokosuka, about an hour's drive south of Tokyo. Her family is fine, but the area is still on alert for tsunamis and the local grocery stores are running out of staples like bread and noodles.  A friend who lives in Tokyo has returned to his hometown of Miyagi to look for his two missing siblings and a number of friends.

Saito is a student at Stony Brook University in New York but is working in Washington, D.C. right now on an internship. Far from her family in Japan and her friends in New York, she says she feels helpless and alone. She says it bothers her to see friends posting on Facebook about normal things, like spring break, while Japanese people are struggling to survive.

St. John's University student Kunihiro Shimoji attends college in the U.S. state of Minnesota. His family is on the island of Okinawa, far from the earthquake's epicenter. But he has a lot of friends in Miyagi and he says he hasn't heard from most of them. He says he's "kind of worried."

Shimoji is organizing a campus fundraising event for Japan and says more than 100 friends have offered to help out. He will visit both Tokyo and Okinawa in July, as a leader of a student conference meant to bring U.S. and Japanese students together.

"It's a sad time," he says, "but I feel like it's a big chance for us as global citizens." He says Japan's tragedy will show how people can help each other out, and make a difference for the future.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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