by President Susan, Published March 21, 2011
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Virtually no tragedy in the world leaves us at Eastern Michigan University untouched. Our hearts go out to the people of Japan as they struggle through this crisis. The EMU community has many Japanese international students, Japanese faculty members, Americans of Japanese heritage, and thriving study abroad programs in Japan.
EMU has worked diligently and ceaselessly with our Japanese community and students studying overseas since the earthquake and tsunami more than a week ago triggered a nuclear power crisis. Our first step was to ensure the whereabouts and safety of all our students currently in Japan and to make inquiries about family members and friends of those in the EMU community with origins in Japan. We are relieved that everyone is safe though a small number of family and friends have been made homeless.
The second step was to gain the widest possible and most reliable information of the unfolding situation. Academic Programs Abroad has concentrated on our 11 students currently in Japan. The office has monitored numerous specialist organizations within the United States, Japan and other nations overseas and has worked closely with our partner institutions in Japan: Kansai Gaidai University near Osaka, Tokyo Gakugei University, and the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Shiga Province. Thankfully none of our partners is near the site of major devastation.
The third step was to institute a plan of action. This came in three stages guided by our understanding of the facts, the information from our partners, and the statements of our government. On March 17, we urged but did not require our students to come home. On March 18, after the State Department issued a Travel Warning, advice against unnecessary travel within Japan, and assistance to citizens wishing to leave the country -- EMU suspended its programs, immediately informing our students and their families. Subsequently, we sought to ease their return to the U.S. EMU offered financial assistance where necessary, an assurance on working with students regarding academic credit, and counseling to returning students should they wish it. Our students are all in the process of returning home. They and their families have been magnificent throughout this ordeal.
For the 35 Japanese international students currently with us, this has been a particularly stressful time to be so far from home and their loved ones. The Office of International Students and other units of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management continue to work very hard to assist these students in any way possible. The role of the Japanese section of the Department of World Languages deserves particular attention. While coping with their own anxieties and stress for their families remaining in Japan, our colleagues have been steadfast in their support of their students -- Japanese students of all majors and our student Japanese majors who have committed to learning the language, have developed a special feeling for the Japanese people and their culture, and who anticipate living and studying in Japan themselves.
What more can we do to help? The Japanese Students Association has taken the initiative to collect funds for relief efforts. They have designated March 21 – 24, Japanese Relief Effort Week. They are accepting donations of cash or checks (payable to “American Red Cross”) and will be at the Student Center from 1 – 4 p.m. during the week.
We will continue to keep you advised of any urgent or pressing matters as they unfold.