WCU students fold paper cranes as part of effort to support Japan

Western Carolina University students are folding paper cranes and offering them to those who give at least $1 to support an earthquake relief fund at a table in the first-floor lobby of McKee Building.

“The paper crane is a symbol of peace in Japan,” said Yumiko Ono, an instructor in the Japanese Program at WCU. “Because of the devastating situation, it was only natural to think that the paper crane would be appropriate to wish for peace as well as contributing to the earthquake relief fund in Japan.”

The effort to help people in the country where the death toll is estimated at more than 10,000 was organized with leadership and support from Ono and Masafumi Takeda, Asian studies coordinator and Japanese language instructor, after students asked them what they could do, said Ono.

In addition to receiving a paper crane, visitors to the table are invited to give $1 to write a message that will be sent to the Miyagi prefectural government, where some of the worst damage has been observed. As of Thursday, the group had raised about $700 toward its $1,000 goal.

For students such as Krista Lujan, a sophomore recreational therapy major and Japanese studies minor from Acworth, Ga., finding the right words to write in the message was a struggle.

“I wanted to say something more than just that they were in my thoughts,” said Lujan, who said she is very supportive of the paper crane and message initiative. “I think it is the very least we can do.”

For more information, contact Ono at 828-227-3905 or yono@wcu.edu.