UCR students raise money, create memorial for Japanese sister university

UC Riverside students and staff sign memorial banner for the campus community at their sister city, Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.
UC Riverside students and staff sign memorial banner for the campus community at their sister city, Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Students at UC Riverside are creating a remembrance banner for victims of this month’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

UCR’s International Education Center unfurled the gold-colored, flag-sized banner beneath the school’s bell tower this week. Foreign languages lecturer Reiko Sato says she’s encouraging people to write messages for staff and students at UCR’s sister school — Tohoku University in Sendai.

Sato: “What we do is ask the student to write a message to the student, and ask the professor to write the message to the professor at Tohoku University to cheer them up. ‘Keep heads up.’ Or, ‘Do your best Japan,’” says Sato. “They could not start the semester because of the disaster.”

UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White is offering places at UCR for Tohoku students who may be unable to finish their degrees because of the disaster. Sato says UCR is also raising disaster relief money in partnership with the city of Riverside.

“Yes, we’re going to take it to the city hall here in Riverside so that they can send it directly to the Sendai city,” says Sato.

Riverside has nurtured strong ties to Sendai and Tohoku University through their 60-year sister city relationship. About 140 Japanese university students are enrolled at UC Riverside this academic term. UCR’s memorial banner will be delivered to Tohuku University next month.

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