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Making Paper Cranes for Reconstruction in Japan: Thursday, April 7

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
April 6, 2011

Pam Ikegami knows more about tsunamis and earthquakes and radiation poisoning than anyone would willingly want to know. A lecturer in Japanese language and culture, Ikegami became a point person for many people after the massive earthquake, and then devastating tsunami, hit Sendai, Japan, on March 11.

She translated the early reports on Japanese television, at times wishing she didn’t understand the language. After living in Japan for 12 years, it was heartbreaking for Ikegami to hear of the destruction.

Now, she has turned from the terrible news to the good, recruiting students to help with rebuilding efforts by constructing something of their own: paper cranes.

When Ikegami heard that a charitable group was going to pay $2 for every paper crane made in support of reconstruction efforts in Japan, she decided to ask her students if they wanted to get involved.

“There’s been an incredible reaction to this,” Ikegami says. As if on cue, a student knocks on her door to say he’s there to help make paper cranes. Ikegami is holding a crane making session Thursday, April 7, in the MUB food court from 12:40 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The Bezos Family Foundation has pledged up to $200,000 -- $2 for every paper crane it receives. “Paper Cranes for Japan” is going on around the world through Students Rebuild, an initiative that has partnered with Dosomething.org and will leverage the Bezos pledge.  The money raised will support Architecture for Humanity’s pro bono teams in Japan, which will work in collaboration with local architects and builders.

 Ikegami hopes UNH students can make at least 1,000 paper cranes. 

“Cranes are mystical and magical in Japan. People believe that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you will get your wish,” Ikegami says. “It’s like a mystical embodiment of your wish; your prayer. It’s a way to do something positive.”

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