One of the most interesting ways that I chose to enrich our lives over the years was to homestay foreign students, many of whom came from Japan. Some stayed a few weeks or months, but many others stayed for years and returned whenever they could.  I was always relieved when I heard they were travelling away from Japan – although many were amused at my concerns about earthquakes, “this is part of our life in Japan, we are used to it, don’t worry, we’re OK.”, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of a terrible disaster to come.  When Taka visited this past December, he asked me  what I felt now… this time I felt it stronger than ever, asked him to be very noticing. So, much as I was horrified,  I was not surprised at the news of the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

This series of events so strongly affected me, that I have been unable to write about it… Like so many others, I needed time to gain some perspective, to see what it could mean.  In the meantime, I reached out to as many of my old students as I could to make sure they and their families were OK.  It was through this correspondence, that I could begin to see some purpose in this overwhelming disaster. I share two of these communications with you in the hopes that you, too, can gain some perspective and notice also the strength and grace that we are learning from the Japanese people as they begin to put the pieces of their live back together again.

Danielle I dont know why lots of Japanese people have to die by tsunami – I can not think  that was inevitable or necessary. But we have to go foward. It’s time. We join forces to overcome this test.   From  Taka

Dear Taka, The disasters in Japan have made me very sad, but your country is teaching us a great deal through this terror… as a country you set an example of fortitude and determination – but also nuclear plants all around the world will be more secure, safer as a result of what you have experienced…. much has been lost, but in the end, perhaps much more can be gained…. Sending prayers, and Lotsa LLLove, Danielle
My family is still alright.  My province have lots of effects by tsunami, by nuclear power station. Many people are out of job because of it.  We still have caution about nuclear power center in Fukushima ( next province of my house about 200 km.)   
About earth quake, is getting less compared to before but still we have 4-5 times/ day about magnitude 4-5e specially Fukushima , Ibaraki ( my Province ) . There are still many problem at the affected tsumami area ( North East) . Those people lost house, family and job.etc. They are still looking for lost families and they are thinking about where to live, how to survive . I watch those people comment, they say ” I lost home, husband, but I am all right so, don’t worry about me. I hope I can visit to  my son’s family soon.  ” 
It’s very difficult to say to them to ask “help me ! ” or ” Please come and help me”. Because so much damage to their heart and couldn’t ask help because they know they need so much help but nobody fix their life, like before. I hope they are getting better situation and healing soon. Also so our earth. 
Thank you for mail .  Please take care. Taeko
Dear Taeko, So many suffering, and while you will all get on with your lives, for hundreds of thousands,  life has changed forever, lives cut short, losses that can never be recovered.  Incomprehensible. Yet I see a great light shining through the rubble left in the tsunami’s wake. I first noticed it when Taka asked me why this would happen, and as the stories of survival surfaced, the light became brighter. 
As I said to Taka, we are learning a lot from you in this time.  Nuclear power will become safer all around the world as a result of what we are learning.  But I think the more important lessons that you are teaching us have to do with maintaining one’s dignity in the face of disaster, holding onto your personal integrity, putting the good of the whole above one’s personal needs…. being courageous and hopeful, even when all seems lost.
Despite the fact that lives have been ripped apart, nature gone mad, your country has not descended into madness with it. I admire your courage and especially your dignity. Sending prayers and Lotsa LLLove, Danielle

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