Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Japan Study Abroad Program Canceled

Japan Study Abroad Program Canceled Due to March Earthquake.When word got out about the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11 of this year, most people were looking at footage of a place they would never see first-hand. But for junior English major Joe Bisciotti, Japan was a place in which he'd planned on studying even before he came to Messiah College. Bisciotti and two other students, Lindsay Prior and Emily Murphy, were scheduled to leave for Japan just two weeks after the earthquake and resulting tsunami occurred.

While watching the news the morning of the earthquake,my heart just sunk,said Bisciotti, "I just kept thinking about how many people had died and how I was most likely no longer going there.The earthquake resulted in a tsunami that claimed thousands of lives. To add to the crisis, the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant flooded and the cooling system designed to keep the reactors from overheating stopped working. The six reactors began to heat up, radiation levels quickly rose, and over 200,000 people within 20 km of the site were evacuated from the area. All others were told to stay indoors to avoid harmful radiation.

The program was still set to go in the few days following the disaster,said Bisciotti.After about a week though, when nuclear issues became a concern, Messiah finally canceled it.At that point, the death toll from the earthquake had climbed into the thousands, and many more people were being reported as missing.Although the program's cancellation was quite a blow, Biscotti is thankful that he wasn't there for the earthquake.I'm still kind of in disbelief,he said.The fact that this happened less than two weeks before we were going to leave is kind of surreal.I knew that God was definitely looking out for us.Since the program was planned to start so late into the semester, Joe was concerned he wouldn't graduate in time since he had essentially skipped one whole semester of classes. But by working closely with the EpiCenter, Joe and the two others who planned on studying with him in Japan were able to get into a summer program at Oxford University.

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