Yesterday, officials recommitted to the Tokyo campus in light of the recent tragedy.
Just less than two months since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan, the university held a ceremony and teach-in to re-affirm its commitment to the devastated country.
“We gathered here today to recommit and re-affirm the unique partnership that Temple shares with the nation of Japan and the Japanese people,” President Ann Weaver Hart said at the rededication ceremony yesterday, May 2. “It is a partnership that was formalized 29 years ago when Temple established its campus in Japan.”
“The ties that bind us are not merely professional or diplomatic in nature,” Hart added. “They are deeply personal.”
Held inside Shusterman Hall, administrators, faculty, students and guests met to discuss life in Japan and at Temple’s Japan Campus since the natural disaster. Economic woes, media coverage of the events in Japan and social media after the earthquake were some of the topics touched upon during the ceremony.
Dennis Morikawa, an honorary consul general of Japan, and Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, a consul general of Japan, were two of the guests who spoke at the event.
Betsy Barber, the associate dean of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management chaired the organizing committee for the event.
“I reached out to people I knew had a relationship with TUJ,” Barber said. “Every speaker we asked … [has] a different angle of what’s happening in Japan, from the economy, to the people, to the community.”
During the first session, Hart, Hai-Lung Dai, the senior vice provost for international affairs and dean of the College of Science and Technology, and Hiroki helped color the right eye of a Daruma doll, symbolic of good luck and perseverance. The second eye is set to be colored when Hart visits TU Japan for the campus’ commencement ceremony.
Sixteen years ago, in 1995, Peter Liacouras, the former president, helped paint the eye of a similar Daruma doll while visiting TU Japan.
Throughout the event, students and speakers encouraged the audience to keep Japan in their thoughts, learn about the culture, aid relief efforts and fuel a dialogue about the country. Following the teach-in, the event moved to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, where a private tour and reception took place.
While TU Japan reopened April 4, the university canceled the study abroad program for the rest of the semester and encouraged United States students to leave Tokyo. Students leaving TU Japan were given the option to finish the semester at Main Campus and receive free housing.
Maggie Rosenbaum, a freshman communications major from Germany, transferred from TU Japan and currently lives in 1300 residence hall, free of charge. She is currently finishing her classes online.
“My parents are really afraid to let me back [to Japan],” Rosenbaum said. “I will be staying in the U.S. for a while.”
While speaking to the audience, Dai said enrollment in study abroad programs in Japan for the summer and fall is lower than it was last year.
Outside the event, a new-to-campus organization, Temple’s Japanese Students Association, partnered with the Japanese Mothers Association of Philadelphia to sell baked items and Japanese-inspired goods to benefit the Japanese Red Cross.
Events coordinator and summer committee president of Temple JSA, Zach Mansuetti, an undeclared junior, said the organization started this semester to help TU Japan students raise money for Japan relief efforts.
Angelo Fichera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.