Channel Islands: Rebuilding Karakuwa
One year after the devastation that came from the massive earthquake off the coast of Sendai, 15 CSU Channel Islands students traveled to Japan to volunteer in the rebuilding efforts during their spring break. Through a field trip component of their Science and Technology in Japan class, students immersed themselves in the culture of Japan and examined how science and technology play a role in everyday life.
In the fishing village of Karakuwa, located in the northern Miyagi Prefecture, students helped in the rebuilding of Karakuwa's main industries: fishing and aquaculture. With the help of local residents, some still living in temporary housing, Channel Islands students worked on an oyster farm, making rope and tying oysters to aquaculture lines where they will mature over the next year. A tent was set up on the foundation of what was once the farm owner's home. They used this space to work in, share meals and warm themselves in since conditions were cold, wet, and at times snowing. Volunteers from RQ Citizens Disaster Relief Network Japan assisted with communication between the student volunteers and residents of the fishing village. Residents shared stories of how the disaster has affected their lives and the presence of volunteers one year after the disaster gave them hope and encouraged them to persevere.
The residents made a lasting impression on the students as well. Student volunteer Gardy Borromeo initially took the course to embrace the Japanese culture and learn about his Mothér's roots. Along with learning about Japanese history and current events of the country, he also shares his reflections of working in the disaster-affected region, "I felt so welcomed in their community. The people seemed so positive in life...I praise and honor those families because they stayed strong and lively when life gave them such a difficult obstacle."
Although Science and Technology in Japan has been offered at Channel Islands for the last four years, this was the first time a service-learning component was added and plans are to make it a permanent part of the class. Students presented projects relating to their work in Japan. One student designed a project around eco-tourism in the Tohoku area as a way to re-vitalize the economy. Another project looked at Japanese folklore, which predicts an exceptionally bountiful fishing year following a tsunami and what scientific reasons could support this belief. Whether based in fact or fiction, the oyster fisherman in Karakuwa reported that the oysters were indeed growing much faster than last year.
One year after the devastation that came from the massive earthquake off the coast of Sendai, 15 CSU Channel Islands students enrolled in Science and Technology in Japan traveled to Japan to volunteer in the rebuilding efforts during their spring break.
Some of the first words of greeting that Earth Sciences Professor Judy King receives from Biogeography students are: "Have you seen the garden today?"; "Did you notice how much the Sycamore has grown?"; "Those Monkey Flowers are blooming like crazy!" With funding from an ECO LED grant made possible by Edison International, 26 students joined forces to plan a garden, learn the scientific and common names of their plants, dig, add amendment, dig some more, learn to plant carefully, spread wood chips, build a path, and water diligently.
Students in Dr. Steve Blumenshine's aquatic ecology course work with a variety of community partners on issues of water quality and habitat restoration, including fish sampling, water testing, river restoration efforts and teaching aquatic ecology modules in local classrooms.
In Dr. Matthew Johnson's Upland Habitat Ecology course, students learn about the process of research by being exposed to real issues impacting their community and sharing their findings and recommendations with local planners and city officials.
Volunteer work aboard historic vessels in the San Francisco Bay is a tradition at California Maritime Academy. Robbie Jackson, instructor of Marine Engineering Technology, saw a need to spread the word among campus cadets to get involved by offering a Historic Ship Preservation service-learning course.
The students of Engineers Without Borders USA-Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (EWB-Cal Poly) are creating change domestically and abroad. In the summer of 2011, students worked with villagers in Sainji, India to create an economical and user-friendly corn de-kerneler to help ease the physical stress of their manual method.