From May 7-15, 2015, students and faculty members from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and Iwate University traveled to the city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. They visited the disaster zone in the city, meet with civic leaders, and learn about reconstruction efforts. The Anchorage area experienced a devastating earthquake (magnitude 9.2) and tsunami in 1964, and there is a high probability of such a disaster occurring again in the future. Due to the enormous scale of the devastation that Rikuzentakata and other areas experienced, much can be learned from Japan in drafting Alaska’s future disaster preparedness plans.
This joint project is a part of the Montgomery Dickson Memorial Project launched by the UAA Montgomery Dickson Center for Japanese Language & Culture. The center was established to commemorate Montgomery ‘Monty’ Dickson, a UAA graduate, who perished in the 2011 tsunami while serving as a JET ALT (Japan Exchange & Teaching Program Assistant Language Teacher) in Rikuzentakata. This UAA-Iwate University joint project was possible by grants from the TOMODACHI Initiative. After Rikuzentakta, the students traveled to Kyoto and visited the Kiyomizu Temple to see the Buddha (Dainichi Nyorai) statue crafted from the once famous Rikuzentakata pine trees washed away by the tsunami. The students attended a special memorial service that was held for Monty before returning to the United States.
- Read more about the program on The Asahi Shinbun, here