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10 MTSU students set to take part in Fukushima-disaster service project

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With support from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Fukushima University and MTSU's Intertnational Affairs office, 10 students from the Murfreesboro-based college will take part in a study-abroad program that commemorates the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Representatives from MTSU announced the June 2012 study-abroad program recently as the March 11 anniversary of the Fukushima disaster dawned. Last year on that date, an earthquake and resulting tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear power plant, which sent three reactors into meltdown. The Japanese government declared the plant stable in December 2011.

As for the forthcoming MTSU program, at this writing, it will be a 10-day, disaster-recovery service program that allows participating MTSU students to take part in the cleanup and rebuilding mission that is needed following last year's disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

Dr. David Schmidt, vice provost for international affairs, said organizers are confident the trip will be a safe one.

"MTSU has assessed the current situation and consulted with Fukushima University. At no time while engaged in program-related activities will students be in areas where the U.S. government recommends its citizens avoid travel,” he remarked.

Students were chosen from a group of applicants to participate in the project that is tentatively scheduled for June 5-15. Under the leadership of Schmidt and Dr. Doug Heffington, director of global studies, the MTSU group will hear presentations on the catastrophe from Fukushima University students, work with other volunteers to clear debris and prepare meals in the Soma district, and share observations with the Fukushima students at the program’s close.

“The focus of the program is to strategically examine how to address a national disaster, given limited resources and time,” said Schmidt, who added that the MTSU students also will use simulated models and assignments to study past and present strategies of disaster recovery.

For more information about the trip, please contact the Office of International Affairs at 615-904-8190.

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