Claremont Rallies Support for Japan with Benefit Concert

By Alexandra Talleur '12Staff Writer

On April 3, compassion for the victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami reverberated around the Claremont Colleges. Beginning in the afternoon, choral groups and student musicians performed to honor those who lost their lives and those who are struggling to recover from the devastating natural disaster. These performances culminated in the Benefit Concert for Japan, held Sunday from 8 - 11:15 p.m. in Garrison Theater.

The multi-media event began with speeches by the Japanese Language Coordinator and faculty from the music department at Scripps. The heartfelt speeches were met with applause and were followed by beautiful song and dance renditions by students and faculty from all five campuses. All evoked feelings of loss, compassion and hope for the mental and physical recovery of the affected Japanese people.

Roughly $3,000 was raised in donations at the event, an impressive sum considering the fact that no admission was charged. Student volunteers walked through the crowd collecting donations, and baskets were passed throughout the audience.

In addition to these opportunities for audience members to donate in the theater, baked goods and Japanese treats were sold in the lobby. Proceeds from these sales are also being donated. The money is going to the Miyagi Prefecture, a jurisdiction which was at the epicenter of the earthquake in Japan.

Molly Serizawa (’13) has been an active participant in the Claremont community’s effort to aid victims of the disaster. With friends and family living in Japan, she felt a personal connection with those affected and an obligation to help. Serizawa volunteered at the event on Sunday.  “It was really overwhelming how many people donated,” she said. “Not just students, but people in the community [as well].”

The audience at Garrison on Sunday night reflected not just the campus-wide hope of student activists, but a community-wide humanitarian effort. Graduate students, students from outside of Claremont and residents of Claremont all attended and donated to show their support. They were rewarded by spectacular performances

Student musicians provided accompaniment for a performance of a hope-stirring song, led by Sai Upadhyayula

(PZ ‘11), in which the audience was asked to participate. The song’s title, “Ue Wo Muite Arukou,” translates roughly to “looking up at the sky and walking forward.”

Professor of Japanese Kyoko Kurita joined Scripps faculty in planning the event. The entire Japanese department at Pomona has been an invaluable resource in the relief effort. In addition to Sunday’s events, a Paper Crane folding event was held on April 3 and 6. Students made close to 500 paper cranes in a gesture of care and support. All of the paper cranes will be sent to Japan.

More opportunities to show support for victims of the tragedy are sure to arise. This Saturday is the International Festival at the I-Center at CMC. Though this event is held every year, this year there will be a focus on Japan and its victims, and donations will be collected.

To give support for relief efforts, whether monetarily or symbolically, add “Claremont Colleges for Japan” on Facebook.