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AU community responds to disaster in Japan
3/18/11

Alfred University faculty, staff and students will participate in a week of activities, beginning Monday, March 21, that heighten awareness of those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Organized through Student Activities, “Our Minds on Japan, Our Actions in Alfred” begins Monday. Dan Napolitano, director of Student Activities, also leads Drawn to Diversity, a program that encourages engagement through creative responses to current events.

“All week, students have been trying to process the sad news from Japan and are looking for ways to respond through action,” said Napolitano. “These simple programs serve more as therapy for our community, putting our emotions into actions. The gestures are intended for us to take pause and show our sincere concern, rather than simply returning to our daily routines while such unimaginable suffering occurs.”

Alfred University has strong ties with Japan, primarily through the Kyocera Corp. and its founder, Dr. Kazuo Inamori. Those ties were solidified in 2005 when the Kyocera gave a $10 million endowment for the School of Engineering, which was then renamed in honor of Inamori.

Monday’s activity is “Connected to Japan.” Students, faculty and staff will be asked to add notes or correspondence to a large map of Japan to “symbolize Alfred’s connection to those in need. The map will be located in the Powell Center lobby from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The “Paper Crane Project” is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday. For a dollar donation, participants will receive an origami (folded paper) crane to hang in the Powell Campus Center lobby. The goal is to make at least 1,000 cranes and to raise $1,000.

Kendall Westbook, one of the organizers of the “Paper Crane Project,” explains “As long as I have been here, Alfred has had a strong friendship with people and places in Japan. I wanted to start making paper cranes to show that we are thinking of them, and that we are hoping that peace will soon return to their nation.”

Westbrook is a senior Communications Studies major from Rochester.

“Message in a Bottle” is Wednesday’s activity. Bottles – which may be worn as a necklace – will be sold between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Powell Campus Center lobby. For $5, participants may purchase a bottle and place a message of hope inside.

“On Our Minds & In Our Hearts” is Thursday’s activity. White tee-shirts, which may be decorated with the Japanese flag or other symbols, will be available for $10 each.

The decorated shirts are to be worn on Friday for a “Day of Solidarity,” when the entire Alfred University community will be asked to show their support of Japan and its citizens. There will be a short ceremony at 12:15 p.m. in the Powell Campus Center.

All during the week, the Center for Student Involvement in Powell Campus Center will be collecting items for “hygiene kits” to send to those displaced by the disaster. Items to donate include new toothbrushes, soap, toothpaste, pocket combs and hand towels.

All proceeds from the fund-raising events will be donated to the American Red Cross, which is working with the Red Cross in Japan to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical supplies to those who are homeless because of the earthquake and/or tsunami damage, or those who have been relocated because of the threat of contamination from the nuclear plant disasters that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami.