Our thoughts are with our Japanese students and scholars and their homeland

03-15-2011

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Update March 18, 2011: Following the issuance of a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning for Japan, the Office of Study Abroad has suspended all spring semester study abroad programs in Japan, effective immediately. OSA staff members are working with the affected students and their respective colleges or departments to ascertain how this will impact their academic program at MSU. In addition, the Japan Center for Michigan Universities has decided to end this semester early. You can find information at http://jcmu.isp.msu.edu/.
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The earthquake and tsunami that caused such destruction in Japan, like the earthquake that wreaked havoc a year ago in Haiti, reminds us how connected we at Michigan State are even to distant parts of the globe. It reminds us, too, how fragile our world is.

Japan, without a doubt, has special meaning to MSU. From the graduation of our first international student in 1884 to the more than 3,200 Japanese alumni who have followed, the university’s connections to Japan have continued to strengthen over the years. Today we feel deep empathy for the country and the people who struggle in the aftermath of a powerful natural disaster and the cascading events that followed. That certainly includes our concern for the loved ones of the 79 Japanese students and scholars who currently study with us.

One of our unique ties is found in the Japan Center for Michigan Universities, the only inter-institutional cooperative program shared by each of Michigan’s 15 public universities. Michigan State operates the program for the group, which at this moment enrolls 45 Michigan students at the JCMU living-learning center in Hikone City in Shiga Prefecture.

Although the center, which lies some 500 miles away from the earthquake epicenter was shaken by this strongest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history, all JCMU students were safely evacuated from the building. There is no damage reported to the building or the surrounding area. You can find information on the JCMU website at http://jcmu.isp.msu.edu/.

Seven of the students at the center are from MSU. Our Office of Study Abroad did not have a program in Japan this semester, but three more MSU students are enrolled in study abroad programs through other universities in Tokyo. We are happy to confirm that all are safe. Additionally, we have accounted for MSU faculty and staff traveling in Japan, all of whom are likewise reported safe.

Through the Office for International Students and Scholars, we have reached out to our Japanese students and scholars to offer support and guidance. As we continue to monitor the situation, we’re also grateful for the MSU faculty with deep knowledge of Japan or expertise with aspects of natural disasters who have stepped forward to share information with news media and others. Team MSU fields a wealth of experience across many areas, and in helping to comfort those with ties to the affected regions or to explain the situation to our own citizens honors our land-grant tradition of outreach and engagement.

I hope you, too, will join in extending your support to your fellow students and colleagues from Japan.

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