3.11 Looking Back: This Past Year after the Earthquake
March 5, 2016 6:53 PM   Subscribe

3.11 Looking Back: This Past Year after the Earthquake
'Looking Back: This Past Year after the Earthquake' is a new website that gives voice to students of Kesen Junior High School in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, on what they experienced during the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in March 2011. The website is bilingual, in Japanese and English. Dozens of teachers and scores of students from around Japan collaborated to translate the original Japanese into English. The accounts are available under a Creative Commons license. Excerpts tweeted @lookingback311.

The children’s stories tell of the safe evacuation by everyone from the school. The children recount too the losses that they and their communities faced, and they also show their strength and resilience in gradually recovering from the disaster. In Japanese and English, the website can help other communities in Japan and beyond learn from the Kesen Junior High School children about disaster prevention and the strength of the human spirit.

Rikuzentakata, a small coastal city in Iwate prefecture, was one of the areas worst hit by the earthquake and massive tsunami [YouTube: Disturbing]. Kesen Junior High School was the closest school to the sea in all of Japan at zero meters above sea level. A single, three-story building, it served around 90 students in years one through three. At the moment the earthquake struck, the whole school was gathered in the gymnasium for singing practice. The school had done many evacuation drills, so the quick decision to evacuate made all the difference. Children and staff safely evacuated first to the parking lot and then to higher ground as violent aftershocks continued and the tsunami approached. Miraculously, everyone at school that day survived.

The children's voices tell of the losses that they and their communities faced in the immediate aftermath of 3.11. They also show the strength and resilience of the children in gradually overcoming loss and adversity, and rebuilding their everyday lives: “The thing I’m sad about the disaster is that many people died, including people who had taken care of me, kids the same age as me, and those younger than me. I want to make the best of every moment of every day for them and appreciate life. I’m grateful for the things that I took for granted before the disaster and ordinary things, and I want to remember everything, all the experiences since the earthquake. Then I want to share this experience with others. I think that is our responsibility, those of us who have experienced this disaster.” (2-26 Second Year Girl) Five years after 3.11, the voices of these children can help other communities in Japan and other countries learn about the importance of disaster prevention practice and training. They lead us also to ask: What kind of future will these young people face as adults in communities still struggling to recover from the 2011 catastrophe?
Role: teacher, proofreader, team member
posted by Gotanda (2 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

nice work
posted by bleikan at 7:05 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

It was really a huge team effort and I played just one part.
posted by Gotanda at 7:31 PM on March 5, 2016

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