AS the sun beat down on QSI International School on Thursday afternoon, dozens of students 2-17 years old, teachers, parents, and staff either jogged or walked around the field track. A sea of red shirts testified to the QSI Walk-a-thon for Japan, to help victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Another 20 students and parents stamped participant name tags and handed out glasses of water and fruit as the runners finished their laps. Music blared in the background for encouragement.
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake had its epicentre near the city of Sendai. Japan was braced for an earthquake, but not for the monster tsunami that followed. Swallowing towns and villages whole, the tsunami was merciless.
The tsunami then knocked out Fukushima’s six nuclear plants’ generators. Backups failed to activate, stunting ability to cool down the reactors and thus portending risk of a nuclear meltdown. As victims tried to stay safe in camps and residents in the nearby region bunked in their homes due to radiation, necessities were running low. Even now, food and electricity are being rationed, and the Japanese are in dire need of medicine and supplies to treat their injured.
In response to this, the Panda Council of QSI Zhuhai assembled to plan the walk-a-thon to raise money for the victims. With each student getting at least two sponsors to pledge, members of the school community all walked for an hour to see how much could be raised. Running time was divided into two periods -- 2-3pm and 3-4pm. While one group ran, the other cheered them on and signed off their name tags to certify that each specific runner had completed a specific number of laps.
What inspired me the most was the school spirit. Runners from one group turned into cheerleaders and were waving pom-poms in the air for their classmates. A group of parents, led by Mrs Marja, teacher of our 4-year-olds classroom, danced to boost morale and keep things going. The person to run the most laps was Madisen Pavone with 55, followed by Tomoki Omata, who posted 54.
At the end of walk-a-thon, as I looked around and saw tired faces and heard gasps for air, I noted pride and accomplishment radiating from everyone. Questions like, “How many laps did you run?” were constantly being asked, and nobody hesitated to respond. Spectators were pleased to see that the walk-a-thon was a success, and Mrs Rika Omata spoke for the Japanese families in QSI Zhuhai and thanked all of us.
As rewards, each participant received a piece of cake and a bookmark with an origami crane created by the Japanese parents to symbolise compassion for others and hope. We also took a moment to reflect on what we had just accomplished, and whom we had helped. The money raised will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross to assist their efforts to help victims of this terrible tragedy.
- By Anthony Duong, QSI student
“So… what do you think, guys?” asked Ms Cindy in Mr Wheeler’s classroom. We were having a Panda Council meeting as usual that Monday. On the previous Friday, March 11, an enormous earthquake throttled Japan. It was a disaster! We Japanese are always aware of earthquakes because Japan is right on the Pacific Ring of Fire. However, this happened too suddenly and strongly.
The Panda Council is a community service organisation at QSI International School of Zhuhai. It helps people who need assistance and in the past we helped the True Children’s Home. This year, in response to Ms Cindy’s question, we thought we must help the Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims by holding a fund-raiser walk-a-thon for Japan.
Thursday was beautiful -- a perfect day to run. I just ran with the wind. I am not an athlete. I was tired after a few laps. I wanted to stop and walk. But I recalled what my mother told me before the event:
“There are many people who have passed away, others who are missing, starving, have lost their family, and many other problems.” It made me think very hard while I was running. I only have to run. The people in Japan are suffering so much more.
I could not run the most laps; nonetheless, I think it depends on how you think about what you are doing and how much you care about the Japanese people who are suffering. I did my best for Japan. I cannot thank everyone enough who participated to in this event. Arigato!
- By Kyoka Seki, QSI student