Center for Community Engagement

Channel Islands: Rebuilding Karakuwa

Channel Islands

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.

Find out more about service learning and community engagement at
CSU Channel Islands.

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CSU Channel Islands
Channel Islands

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.

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