Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Study Abroad Program in Japan cancelled by CSUN

California State University, Northridge, has cancelled its study abroad program in Japan after the the triple whammy of a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a tsunami, and radiation leaks at nuclear facilities in Fukushima. Chancellor Charles B. Reed immediatelly recalled all 22 California State University system students studying in Japan.Three of the four Northridge students who attended school in Kyoto more than 500 miles away from the quake epicenter have returned or are en route to the United States after months learning Japanese culture and language.Now, we must reinstate the study abroad students into the program at CSUN,” said Dr. Aki Hirota, Japanese Section Head, Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.Students will be awarded credit for the work they completed overseas.

A source of frustration, according to Hirota, was the uncertainty of what would be waiting for the students when the arrived back in the states.One member of the program had to stay in Japan to secure a new student visa, while another wanted to stay and help.I was against leaving Japan at the time of the quake and tsunami,said CSUN student Nick Winegar in an email.I wanted to find a way to help out in any way I could. I felt I was in no danger since the earthquake and tsunami were over.Winegar said he searched for locally to donate anything he could: money, clothes, blood. Even more than that, he wanted to provide physical help, but he said his presence would probably have been more of a burden than anything.

Since the quake, I have had a strong enforcement to the respect I give the Japanese society, Winegar said.After an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear scare, the Japanese people and society stay strong and resourceful.Winegar said he expects to be living in the Santa Clarita Valley when he returns, but he said that the immediate order to evacuate left him with little time to plan a living situation.I was definitely unhappy,said James Her, a CSUN student who returned last week after six months at Japan’s Ry├╗koku University.But I expected our university to either suspend the program or terminate it solely for the safety of the students studying abroad on behalf of the university.

When the earthquake hit Japan on March 11, Her was in Seoul, Korea. He travelled across three countries in three days to get his affairs in order to leave Japan.After a $3,000 one-way plane ticket back to the United States, Her said the hardest part was not being able to say goodbye to the people he met and the friends he made in program.They went under the auspice of the CSU system,Dr. Hirota said.They had to come back because we were responsible for them.The students will be reimbursed for unexpected funds collected by CSU’s Office of International Programs, according to a memo from CSU Chancellor Reed.Her, who was awarded a scholarship, does not expect to be reimbursed for his tuition.I understand Japan was nationally in a state of emergency and our university and our head of the Japanese department back in America was only doing what they felt was safe and right,Her said.It is a rare occurrence and I know there are others, especially in Japan, that had suffered a much greater loss than I have, so I have no room for greed.

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