April 26, 2011

Students Raise Funds for Japan

On July 7, the Japanese celebrate “Star Festival,” an ancient myth that tells the tale of two lovers who can only be together one day of the year. As part of the celebration, people write wishes of love, hope, and good luck on colorful paper and hang them from a bamboo branch. The myth says that when the two lovers are finally together [on July 7], all of the wishes will come true. But for Aki Yoshida, MARC ’11, the celebration is starting early.

Yoshida and classmate Suzanna Gal, MARC ’11, rallied friends and other students to create their own “wishing tree” as a way to inform the community and encourage donations to support those affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

“A lot of the cities affected by the disaster created wishing trees, so we wanted to do that here to help raise awareness,” said Yoshida.

Over the course of five days, Yoshida, Gal, and their classmates raised $1,600. The money will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross, said Yoshida.

Yoshida and fellow Japanese native student, Ben Blakely, BELM ’12, taught donors how to make origami and they wrote messages for loved ones in Japanese calligraphy. They also set up a laptop with videos from the tsunami to help people better understand the magnitude of the disaster.

“The calligraphy was a big hit,” said Yoshida. “It was sweet; I had professors and students coming up to me asking to write ‘I love you’ or ‘Happy Anniversary’ for their significant other.”

The ability to give donators something to actually take away, added Gal, was what made the event so successful. “It was a great personal touch,” she said.

Gal and Yoshida will graduate this May and hope to work in Boston post-graduation.

“The fundraiser was really successful,” said Gal. “It was so inspiring to see students just walk up to the ATM, take out money and not think twice about giving it to Japan.”

“But for us, it wasn’t necessarily about how much money we raised but more about seeing people willingly and generously donating to a good cause,” Yoshida said.

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