Like many people in Japan (at least those who still have electricity) I’ve been watching the news since yesterday, breathing a sigh of relief as each friend checks in or is found, and still worried about the many who have still not yet been heard from.
(This map was first posted on Facebook by Kim Horne, and is originally from crnjapan)
If you aren’t familiar with Japan, this map should help you understand where everything is happening. The coast along the yellow region is nearest to the epicenter, and where the tsunami was the highest. That’s where the devastation is worst, and where most people are still without electricity or telephone services. The quake was felt as far west as the green and aqua areas. (I live in the gray area, and if I hadn’t had Twitter on yesterday I wouldn’t have known that anything happened.)
ELT News has done a good job of collecting information about the quake and aftermath, with links to more resources. The information is geared toward English teachers living in Japan, but useful to anyone and very easy to navigate.
Collaborative for Disaster Mitigation is another site that parents and teachers of children might find useful. It has a downloadable brochure: Helping Children Cope After a Major Earthquake The brochure is available in English and Japanese (and 9 other languages) and has some nice tips for adults wondering how to help children deal with a universe that is stunningly beyond their control. My favorite tips:
–Mentally command the quake or aftershock to stop shaking, and repeat the command until the shaking stops. For some children (and maybe adults?) this helps reduce stress immediately after the quake.
–Bring a stuffed animal to school to act as an earthquake buddy.
–Remember that your family and community will take care of you.
They also include some excellent advice for recognizing and understanding a child’s reaction to disaster and loss, which is important since children often show fear and sadness differently than adults do.
I’ve also received messages from teachers outside Japan wondering what their students can do to help children inside Japan. We all want to do something–adults and children alike. I know that there will be specific needs in the coming weeks, and I’ll do my best to get the word out as I hear. In the meantime, if your students have a connection to Japan (whether friends, a school connection, or simply a unit of study about the country) why not let them write messages of encouragement for the children here. The act of doing something is better than the frustration of not being able to do anything.
If the messages are physical (like letters or cards) hold onto them until things are a bit more settled. I’m sure we can identify schools that will be happy to receive them. If the messages are digital, I’ll find a place for your students to share them. Contact me though this blog (or on Twitter or Facebook) and we’ll figure it out.
In the meantime, the ELT News site has links to organizations providing support on the ground up north, and information about donating to them. It’s always smart to stay with established aid organizations, and they’re already here and helping.
Do you have additional suggestions for helping children cope? Or for ways that children can be involved in helping? Please share them in comments.
If you’re safe with your loved ones, give them a hug. Please continue to hold northern Japan in your thoughts and prayers.