Kyoko Klaus, Tanaka Lecturer in Asian Languages and Cultures at HWS, and the efforts of members of the Colleges and Geneva communities in raising money to support Asahi, Japan, Klaus’ hometown that was hit by the recent tsunami, were featured in Yomiuri, a national newspaper.
During the Festival of Nations, Klaus led the Japanese culture booth, where participants could make paper cranes. For each crane, OshKosh B’Gosh, through the Cranes for Kids program, will send an article of clothing to Japan. She has organized a number of additional fundraisers, with support totaling more than $6,000, and organized a Skype videoconference between members of the Geneva and Asahi communities, including the Asahi mayor.
Klaus recently received a copy of the Yomiuri from her mother and translated it into English. She also received a photo of residents of one of four shelters, located in a school gym in Asahi, holding copies of the HWS student newspaper the Herald. Klaus had sent copies of the paper that detailed the fundraising efforts to her mother, who distributed them at the shelter.
“My mom said they were thankful to HWS,” says Klaus, explaining, “The photo was taken last week, but they should be able to move out of the shelters and into temporary housing soon.”
The following is the English translation of Yomiuri, talking about the Skype conference which took place at HWS in April.
Circle of Support for Asahi grows in U.S.A.
Geneva – Fundraising and charity concert
Woman from Asahi raises awareness
The support effort for Asahi, a city devastated by the great disaster in eastern Japan, has been taking place in the community of Geneva in the state of New York. On the 20th (19th in Geneva time), the two cities were connected via the free correspondence service “Skype” during a conference, and Mayor Tadanao Akechi along with affected people [in Asahi] thanked the American community and reported on the situation in Asahi.
The support effort was initiated by Ms. Kyoko Klaus (maiden name: Ishida) who is from Asahi. Ms. Kyoko is married to an American man, and is teaching Japanese at “Hobart and William Smith Colleges” in Geneva. She learned of the severe damage in Asahi on the Internet. “I don’t like to stand out in the crowd, but I had to be brave for Asahi and called for help,” she says.
College students as well as high school students started fundraising; a charity concert took place; and Japanese items were sold, and over 500,000 yen [about $6,100] has been raised so far. The messages written by the college students were translated into Japanese and have already arrived in shelters in Asahi.
The conference took place via Internet, connecting Ms. Kyoko’s parents’ house and Geneva. The Mayor Akechi greeted people with a statement “We are working hard toward restoration and reconstruction. We would like to thank you one more time for your kind heartedness.” A business owner whose business was affected by the tsunami talked about the terror he felt during the catastrophe and said, “My friend who lost his home said, whenever he goes back to where his house used to be, his chest feels tight and he gets dizzy.”
The students in Geneva listened quietly, and there was an offer for continuous support. Ms. Kyoko said, “I want people [in Asahi] to know that the whole community [of Geneva] is supporting you. This is the beginning of the restoration. I’d like to continue to participate in different fundraisers for Asahi.”