Students and their families press on after disaster hits

Linfield students studying abroad in Japan were not harmed by the March 11 disaster involving an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and record-setting tsunami on the coast of Japan.

The tsunami mainly affected the northern region of Japan, but the students are studying in the southern region of the country.

Videos instantly surfaced on the Web as waves crashed into the coastline, and millions watched as the coastal towns of Japan were quickly swept away.

Hours later, a tsunami warning for the west coast of the U.S. was sent out as well as one for Hawaii, which had the potential of devastating many students.

The families of students from Japan are fine, Shaik Ismail, director of international programs, said.

But the death toll as of March 31 was almost 11,500 and more than 16,000 are still missing, according to

Junior Niki Raissian, who recently studied abroad in Japan last semester, was affected by the disaster. Raissian’s mother recently moved to be with family in Yokohmara, near Tokyo.

Raissian said she found out what happened from her mother before the media aired the information regarding the disaster.

“She made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal,” Raissian said.

She went on about how her family was impacted by the earthquake and the tsunami.

She said her mother told her that other than daily power outages and some aftershocks, the effects were not drastic, but it was difficult to find food inside of the grocery store, Raissian’s mother reported to her.

Calls were made to students who may have needed Linfield’s assistance contacting their families in Japan, Ismail said.

“We continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis, with our partner institutions in Japan and with the U.S. Department of State,” he said.

Ismail explained what Linfield has done to help those impacted by the crisis.

“There was a campus- wide call-to-action fundraiser (via email) three weeks ago, organized by the International Programs Office. The college collected a respectable amount of donations from our community and sent the checks to Medical Teams International based in Portland,” Ismail said.

He said the college connects with students who are studying abroad and keeps in touch with their families through almost-daily emails.

“We also appreciate that our students in Japan have contacted us frequently and have remained cool, calm and collected throughout this ordeal — surely a sign of great preparation by the college,” Ismail said.

For more information about the students studying in Japan, contact Ismail at

Corrina Crocker/Sports editor
Corrina Crocker can be reached at

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