Posts tagged ‘Japan’

Back From Japan, With Stories to Tell

Tyler Smith knows he was lucky. The former Nittany Lion basketball player had his job disrupted and his family displaced last month by the earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear crisis in Japan, but he knows most of his teammates have it much worse. “Japan is their home; they don’t have anywhere else to go,” Smith said. “I could hop on a plane and leave.”

Smith ’02 plays professionally for the Hitachi Sunrockers, a team in Japan’s JBL Super League. Smith, his wife Cara Van Fossan ’01, and their young daughter were unhurt in the disaster, and they returned to the States last month after the league was forced to cancel the remainder of its season. A reporter from recently caught up with Smith, who talked about experiencing the massive quake, how Japan’s culture of respect has helped its people deal with the tragedy they face, and life as a 6-foot-10 blond guy in the shortest nation on earth.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

Japan’s Troubles are Personal for Penn State Student

Smith, volunteering at the Japanese Friend Association/Red Cross tables in the HUB, is holding a sign that says, "Keep fighting Japan! You are not alone!"

Penn State junior Caitlyn Smith experienced her first earthquake not long after she started her semester abroad in Japan at Ibraki University last April. She was celebrating a new friend’s birthday at lunch in an Indian restaurant, and she thought the person sitting next to her was bouncing his leg to shake the table. “That’s really annoying,” she told him. “I’m not doing anything,” he answered. When no one else admitted to moving the table, everyone realized it was an earthquake.

“I was freaking out,” Smith said. “And it was only a level one.”

For her Japanese friends, however, such tremors were a way of life. They’d been having earthquake drills since they started school, so when Smith arrived at the university, she received only a packet with basic “what to do” information. And soon Smith got used to the tremors, too. The next earthquake was a level three, and although it awakened her, it stopped before she could get out of bed and under a table. So she went back to sleep. “It’s really just a way of life,” she said. “My friends didn’t freak out. Earthquakes are normal.”

So when she and two Japanese friends from the university who were visiting for spring break heard the news of an earthquake in northern Japan last Friday, they figured it wasn’t such a big deal. Until they went to YouTube and saw the damage caused by the earthquake, at a 9.0 magnitude the worst in Japan’s history, and the resulting tsunami. (more…)

March 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

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