Georgetown Students in Japan Safe, University Says
Published: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 01:03
All seven Georgetown undergraduates studying abroad in Tokyo are safe and accounted for after an earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, according to Rob Mathis, communications officer for the university.
"At this point I can confirm that we have had either direct (from students) or indirect (from our partner universities) confirmation that all of our students in Japan are safe," Mathis said in an email.
Rebecca Saldivar (COL '12) was in her dorm room at Keio University in Tokyo when the earthquake —the highest ever recorded in Japan at 8.9 in magnitude — hit. She said that the effects of the quake, which left 10,000 dead according to The Washington Post, make it difficult for her to get around the city.
"I feel kind of disconnected from the rest of the country and city lately, as I am wary of taking the subway too far from my neighborhood, since the trains are still running on sort of an erratic schedule and I don't want to get myself stranded far from home," she said in an email.
Saldivar also said that she has had trouble finding stores that are open and receiving food shipments.
"In my area, many stores are running on reduced hours and some have been unable to restock, so when I go to buy food I find many empty shelves and closed doors," she wrote.
The students are studying at International Christian University, Keio University and Sophia University, all in Tokyo, which is located south of the main area struck by the tsunami.
The seven students are on break until the next semester starts in early April. Six more students will travel to Japan at that time for the spring semester, according to Director of Overseas Studies Laura Monarch.
Monarch said that at this point, it does not seem as if any universities' academic schedules will change.
"The universities are currently on break, but all have reported little to no damage to their campuses, and current indications are that they intend to start their next term as planned," she said.
John Shuler (MSB '13) is scheduled to study at Tokyo's Sophia University starting in April, but he is unsure if he will actually head there for the semester.
"As of last night we were informed by our adviser that our program is still on track, but with the latest news coming in on possible future earthquakes and the risks posed from the nuclear meltdowns, my family and I are deliberating whether or not spending four months in the country would be safe," he wrote in an email.
Shuler also has family in Japan who were largely unaffected by the earthquake, but he said that family friends' homes have been damaged due to tremors in Tokyo.
One student traveling in Japan for spring break has also been in touch with the university regarding his safety.
The Office of International Programs has been following the developments closely, according to Mathis.
"OIP is working to monitor the situation as it evolves," he said. "At this point there are no plans to evacuate as far as I know."
Saldivar said that she is pleased with Georgetown and Keio Universities' handling of the situation thus far. She added that they have been in touch with her and her family.
"I have had great support from all sides," she said in an email. "I feel reassured that I can rely on my schools when I am unsure of what steps to take."