Senior experiences emotional tremors from Japanese earthquake

By Tiffanie Reynolds |

Emi Miyao, senior business major from Akita, JapanA text message never made Emi Miyao feel so far away from home.

Around 1:30 am on March 11, Miyao woke to find the message, “8.8 magnitude earthquake in Japan,” on her cell phone. She quickly looked up the news for herself on the Internet and immediately e-mailed her parents in Akita, Japan. It took them another day to let her know that everything was all right. The earthquake had taken out the city’s electricity.

That day of waiting was the hardest for Miyao, a senior business major at Flagler. Looking back on it, she said she not only felt disconnected from her home, but also from other students around her. Many didn’t know about the disaster, and there was no one who was impacted the same way she was.

“It was yesterday, nothing changed, but in Japan a lot of things are going on and, as a Japanese, I didn’t know what to do,” said Miyao.

It was this sense of disconnect that prompted her to fly back home this summer, despite her family’s advice and her own nervousness. Because she was not in Japan when the disaster happened, she wanted to at least be a part of the recovery effort.

Akita avoided damage from the earthquake and tsunami, but not from the long term effects after the disaster. Some of the biggest differences were in the daily routines, especially the use of electricity.

“Even though it was really hot, we were not allowed to lower the temperature of the A/C. Everywhere I went, like the department store or the malls, I felt warm inside,” said Miyao.

Because several nuclear power plants were damaged by the tsunami, the Japanese government obligated all major companies to cut their daytime use of electricity by 15 percent. This is so there will be enough power from the nuclear plants still in operation.

Concerned about radiation released from damaged nuclear power plants, Miyao’s mother was also careful in the foods she picked while grocery shopping every week. She bought beef from Australia or America and avoided local fruits and vegetables.

Even through all these small struggles, Miyao saw a little bit of hope.

“Everywhere I went I saw posters or advertisement that said ‘Hang in there’ or ‘We are helping
each other,'” she said.

Her view of Japan also become stronger. Despite so much loss, people around the world worked together to help build up her country again. This cooperation impressed her the most.

“People are really considerate and nobody is being indifferent. I’m really proud of it,” she said.

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