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Nagoya students give up time for 3/11 survivors

Chunichi Shimbun

This month marks the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Students from Nagoya Gakuin University in Aichi Prefecture have continued to do volunteer work in affected areas, ensuring that the victims are not forgotten.

Using their spring break, 46 students are currently visiting the Tohoku region through Sunday, helping with agricultural and fisheries duties and interacting with people living in temporary housing.

The university has been sending students to Miyagi and Iwate prefectures during long vacation breaks since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and a total of 600 students have participated in the program so far.

Before volunteering, they take part in study sessions to prepare themselves mentally for some of the activities, as well as learn about revitalization and how local industries are currently doing.

Students who take part in volunteer activities can include them as credits necessary for graduation.

Soon after the quake, the volunteer work mainly involved physical activity such as clearing away debris, but recently the Nagoya students have been helping fisheries products businesses that have restarted again, as well as local farmers.

Some have also spent time chatting with the elderly people living alone in temporary housing.

Tomohiro Omiya, associate professor of commerce at Nagoya Gakuin, is in charge of coordinating the activities.

Some of the locals have voiced their concerns that “they have been forgotten (by the rest of the country)” with the passing of time.

Comments like this motivates Omiya to organize visits to affected areas for his students and support the victims of the earthquake.

“I want them to learn from the strength of the locals who are trying to recover from the disaster,” he said.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Feb. 3.