Starting at 4 p.m. today, Webster University will hold, "Hope for Japan: Rebuilding For Our Common Future," a Japanese cultural event and fundraiser to support the victims of the country's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The event, organized by the university's Japanese Student Association, will be held in the Webster University Community Music School. There will be a sale of student-made art, bracelets in support of Japan and other items, plus guest speakers, taiko drumming and sales of Japanese cuisine.

"We were in shock the first week when it happened," said Noriko Yuasa, an associate arts professor who works with the Japanese Student Association. "Students don’t have a family over here. ... They were watching TV and watching the Internet and thinking what can we do?"

The student association began selling bracelets to raise money for relief efforts and also decided to include fund-raising activities, as well as academic presentations, as part of its annual cultural night.

With so much media attention focused on the devastation resulting from the natural disasters, it was important for the event to communicate a message of hope.

"Some students really felt strongly not to show a devastated image," Yuasa said. "Students are really more focused on the hope. That's why the name of the event is 'Hope for Japan.' ... We hope to build our future together to show a more positive side."

The schedule for Hope for Japan is:

  • 4:00 p.m. Free gifts created by graphic design students (until gone)
  • 4:00-8:30 p.m. Arts and crafts sale in Community of Music School
  • 5:00-6:30 p.m. Panel discussions on Japan in SV 101
  • 6:30-7:30 p.m. Reception and food sales in Community of Music School
  • 7:30-8:00 p.m. Osuwa Taiko performance
  • 8:00-8:30 p.m. Taiko drumming workshop

The 5-6:30 p.m. panel will provide updates about Japan’s rebuilding process; media coverage of the disaster and its aftermath; the future of nuclear power plants in Japan; and the impact of the disaster on the psychology of Japanese youth.

The 90-minute panel also will be webcast on The Global Forum and will offer opportunity for the worldwide audience to join the discussion via the chat channel.

Speakers include:

  • Edson Kodama (Secretary General, Junior Chamber International)
  • Yoshiaki Shibusawa (President, St. Louis Japan Society)
  • Art Silverblatt (Professor of Media Literacy, Webster University)
  • Dr. Steven Starr (Senior Scientist, Physician for Social Responsibility)
  • Dr. Roy Tamashiro (Professor of Education, Webster University)

Hope for Japan is free and open to the public.

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