We have all been shocked at the terrible destruction wrought by the triple-crisis of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Sendai, Japan last month. Almost a month after the disasters struck, over 12,000 people are dead and another 15,000 still missing.

The story no longer dominates the front pages, but the emotional and physical suffering of hundreds of thousands of survivors continues.

I am writing to announce various events intended to help inform the college and the broader community about the crisis and to demonstrate sympathy, support and solidarity with the people of Japan as they struggle to rebuild their shattered communities.

The Bowdoin faculty who study Japan are presenting a panel discussion on the crisis on Tuesday April 12 at 7:30-9 p.m. in Lancaster Lounge.

Professor of History and Asian studies Tom Conlan will speak of his two years living in Sendai and share pictures of the region.

Assistant Professor of Asian studies Vyjayanthi Selinger will talk about the cultural significance of earthquakes and nuclear catastrophes in a talk entitled "Godzilla and Earthquakes in the Public Imagination," and I will discuss the political dimensions of the crisis.

To conclude, Lecturer in Japanese Mitsuko Numata will introduce the Million Crane Project.

Paper cranes (orizuru) have profound significance in Japanese culture. According to the legend of senzaburo, anyone who made 1000 paper cranes would be granted a wish.

When the friends of a girl suffering from leukemia in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima made one thousand cranes to wish for her recovery, orizuru became a national symbol of peace, sympathy for victims and support for survivors of similar disasters.

The Million Crane Project is a nationwide initiative among schools and colleges across the United States to make and send pictures of one million origami paper cranes to Japan to express our support.

The emotional and morale-boosting impact of this and similar displays of solidarity cannot be overstated.

I was speaking with a Japanese official a few days ago about the long, arduous tasks of caring for survivors, battling the nuclear catastrophe and rebuilding.

"It helps us so much to know the world is on our side," he told me. "We need your encouragement, we need your good wishes."

The Asian Students Association (ASA) is dedicating all of this year's "Asian Week" events in some part to fund-raising or crane-making.

A bubble tea and Asian snack event with paper-crane folding lessons will occur Monday, April 11. The faculty panel is on Tuesday, April 12.

Comedy Central star Hari Kondabolu '04 will return to Bowdoin on Thursday, April 14 for an evening of stand-up comedy.

I will talk about the political, social and economic repercussions of crisis at Reed House on Friday, April 15.

The grand finale will be the ASA Fashion Show on Saturday, April 15. The twist this year will be the ability to sponsor a friend, professor or coach to walk the catwalk as a guest model—with proceeds going to the earthquake relief.

On behalf of the faculty and staff of the Asian studies program, I urge you all to come along!

All money raised will be directed to the Japanese Red Cross. They are collecting on-line donations via PayPal at www.jrc.or.jp/english.

Henry Laurence is an associate professor of government and Asian studies.