Student Press Assistant (SPA)
NGHIEM Quoc Hoai Minh (College of International Management 4th yerar, Vietnam)
My first earthquake experience has taught me this most important lesson: Living in fear is a choice.
As I kept praying for the ground under my feet to stop shaking, I saw Japanese people in the evacuation shelters and my neighborhood carrying on their routine, trying their best not to burden other people. Their calm attitude left a strong impression on me, and I eventually realized that in times of chaos, fears are self-made. Claiming so doesn’t mean I am taking natural disasters lightly, but in fact, I have learnt that sufficient knowledge of ongoing happenings, trusting specialized relief teams, and keeping a clear mind no matter what are the key to minimize fears. We may not be able to control earthquake magnitude, but we can always keep our emotions in check, though it is challenging and I tip my hat to Japanese people for doing such an incredible job of it.
I would love to extend my heartfelt gratitude towards evacuation shelter staffs, APU and all of my friends that have supported me physically and mentally with both their professional skills and sincerity. My heart is with our Kumamoto and Ecuador fellows who have been caught up in much more challenging situations.
Earthquakes test our resilience. They resemble the rocky road we walk on each day to achieve our aspirations, and we are all mighty warriors in our pursuit of a fulfilling life. As we all live in the age of “expecting the unexpected”, let us all stay safe, strong, and invincible wherever we go.
Student Press Assistant (SPA)
ARORA Akshat(College of International Management 3rd year, India)
As I sat amongst hundreds at an evacuation center while experiencing the worst series of earthquake shocks I had ever felt, there were a plethora of questions spiraling inside my head - Was the worst over? Or was it yet to come? And how much worse could it get?
I was at the beach with almost 20 of my friends at 1:25 am that Saturday morning, when our phones first warned us of the earthquake. Before we could even realize what was happening, the ground below us started shaking, the trees around us, swinging, and all of us stood there - trembling.
It was probably the most severe earthquake I have ever experienced, and although I thought I was mentally prepared to handle myself in such a situation, I evidently wasn't. On the contrary, little did the 'do's and don'ts' come to my mind, and the only thing I could think of was returning to my apartment as soon as possible.
Everyone probably knows what followed that earthquake and although the tremors in Beppu weren't that strong compared to Kumamoto, they were strong enough to damage buildings and trigger a tsunami alert initially. Since there was always a possibility of a strong aftershock, I felt it was a better idea to spend the next two nights at an evacuation center. The Thai Embassy was kind enough to get buses arranged for Thai as well as other APU students to get out of Beppu, and that's how even I went to Fukuoka where I spent a few days post the earthquake.
However, in the last two weeks, I have realized Japan's sense of responsibility and collectiveness as a nation. I cannot imagine any other place where people would be so meticulous, dedicated and organized. Furthermore, the assistance and support rendered to the students by the local residents at the evacuation center as well as entities such as mobile phone companies that provided us with free Wi-Fi and phone charging spots, filled me with love and respect towards the entire community around me.
MOHAMMAD Rifqi Rizaldi(College of Asia Pacific Studies 3rd year, Indonesia)
FERNANDO Thiththalapitige Sherveen Randima Anton(College of International Management 2nd year, Sri Lanka)
VEERABURINON Pannavat(College of Asia Pacific Studies 4th year, Thailand)
99 exchange students in APU also experienced the huge earthquakes this time. I interviewed three of them about their feelings after the earthquakes happened. They and most exchange students were spending their time in AP house 4 (Former Oita International House) when the earthquake happened.
BRAIDOTTI Estelle Marie Madeleine (Exchange student, France) was having dinner with her friends when the first earthquake happened. She heard some mobile phones started ringing as alert. She said it was the first time to experience earthquakes, she felt strange but was not so scared as Japanese people in AP house 4 were not upset so much. However, she was scared of the second one because of the size of shaking and was afraid that the ceiling may collapse. BRAIDOTTI tried to find out more information about the earthquakes and says “Everything in Beppu” in Facebook was really useful to get information. At about 2-3 a.m. on that day, she decided to go to an evacuation center based on the advice of the office staff in AP house 4.
SERROUKH Jamal Din (Exchange student, the UK) was in his room and became a little bit worried because the second earthquake was stronger and longer than the first one. He hid under the desk and all the books fell down from the shelf. After shaking, he checked everyone was ok and gathered in the lounge.
EGBERT Benjamen Ronald (exchange student, the US) saw people who were annoying and angry in the shelters. They looked so stressed because they could not get comfortable sleep. On the other hand, he was slightly positive as he evacuated and stayed with other exchange students. They stayed there for one night and went back to AP house 4.
After experiencing the earthquakes BRAIDOTTI said that she could learn how she should react like covering and protecting her head when earthquake happens. She is not so afraid of living in Japan though she experienced the huge disaster. SERROUKH said that he really likes Japan. He will return to his country after this semester but plans to come back to Japan after the final year in his university.
I hope they enjoy their staying in Beppu and Japan.
#九州が大好き:HANEO Takashi (College of Asia Pacific Studies 4th year, Japan)
After the big earthquake in Kumamoto and Oita, the APU online community – particularly on social networking platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, were flooded by amateur photographs and stories on Kyushu tourism embedded with an eye-catching hashtag, #九州が大好き. The trend was initiated by one of APU students, whom we had a chance to talk with.
IMAI Shion (College of Asia Pacific Studies 3rd year, Japan), Representative of KOKOKARA
Since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, the student club KOKOKARA has been spreading a message about the importance of disaster preparedness. During the recent Kumamoto Earthquake, the group provided up-to-the-minute information on its Facebook page and has been conducting activities aimed at connecting with people in the Kumamoto area. On April 21 and 22, the club collected donations and relief supplies, and on April 23, a group of five students, including two members of KOKOKARA, traveled to Kumamoto to deliver the supplies to the evacuation centers set up at Tobu Junior High School in Kumamoto City and Hiroyasu and Mashiki Chuo Elementary Schools in Mashiki Town.
At Mashiki Chuo Elementary School, they saw a group of three elderly women sharing a single blanket. IMAI said she couldn’t stand the thought of the evacuees, who still didn't have access to a bath, having to live amid the less than pleasant odor of the center. After going to Kumamoto, she felt that the information that the mass media was conveying (e.g., volunteers were not needed because they would cause traffic jams, relief supplies were lacking, and so on) did not provide the whole story. During her visit, she heard that locals were having trouble cleaning up their homes because the schools were all closed and they had to look after their children. This gave her the idea to get a group of APU student volunteers together to offer a babysitting service.
KOKOKARA has been active since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and after Kumamoto, IMAI said someone she knows in Tohoku gave her some sage advice: “Don't let one month lull you into complaisance; you should be ready to run at any time.” In closing, IMAI said that even though the speed and process of reconstruction differs from place to place, she will remain committed to assisting with the recovery and providing support over the long term.
Relief campaign in Beppu City by Kyushu Central Masjid
In the aftermath of the big earthquake that struck Kumamoto and Oita Prefecture on April 16, Kyushu Central Masjid (a.k.a. Beppu Mosque) launched a relief campaign in form of preparing and delivering dinner package for people in multiple earthquake shelters in Beppu City. The campaign, which was coordinated by Collage of International Management, Professor KHAN Muhammad T., emphasized the mosque’s inherent nature as a community center besides simply being a religious institution. During the week after the April 16 earthquake, volunteers cooked meals and delivered them shelters starting with those nearest to the mosque, including Sakaigawa Elementary, Ishigaki Elementary and Chubu Junior High School. (The campaign lasted for 17 days.)
According to Professor KHAN, the campaign was held in order to return the kindness of Beppu citizen in welcoming the Muslim community and may also help local people learn about Muslim. As academic and extracurricular activities in APU was suspended, a number of APU students from various countries also came to lend their hands in cooking and preparing the meals.
People at the shelters welcomed the activity and grateful for warm meals, as well as the friendliness of the community. The campaign also attracted the Japanese media including the local newspaper Oita Godo Shimbun and NHK to come and cover the story. Although Beppu city did not suffer from extreme damage, some people, especially the elderly were still staying at the shelters. （as of May 2nd）
Okaerinasai: Interview with the organizers
For APU students who came to campus at the 1st period when the school resumed on Monday, April 25 there was an unforgettable experience. As they got off the bus, some staff members and professors greeted them with the Japanese phrase ‘okaerinasai’ which is traditionally spoken when greeting a family member comeing home. A lot of students were touched by this initiative and just a while later, pictures and videos of the activity were already uploaded to social media website like Facebook.
Three Student Office staff members were in charge of this event. According to them, who kept on working at the office throughout the first week after the quake, all APU students survived in a good condition - some evacuated to outside Kyushu or even outside Japan, and the others stayed in shelters in Beppu. However, being aware that the earthquake might be a first-time experience for some of the students, Ms.Tomotsune felt a need to cheer the students as they came back to school. She proposed the idea to her colleagues Ms.Sugimoto and Mr.Umemura, who just one day before the school starts informed their colleagues in the Student Office as well as the head of the department who subsequently informed faculty members and executives, including APU president of the initiative. Mr.Umemura was worried that nobody would show up because it was too sudden of a plan, but it turned out that the idea was very well received by both staff members and executives, and quite a number of them gathered and greeted the students amidst the continuing aftershocks.