Thank you to everyone who wrote in asking where I was in the Japan earthquake. Luckily I was on the other side of the country and both myself and the Genki English staff are all OK.

Quite a few of our regular readers are in the affected area though so I hope you are all OK.

Obviously checking Genki English is way down the priority list at the moment but when things settle down please do comment and let us all know how you are, plenty of our overseas friends have been asking about you.


Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

40 Responses to “Japan Earthquake”

  1. Gudrun

    Good to hear you’re all OK!!! I was wondering…
    My heart goes out to everyone in the area!
    My best to all!

  2. Carol

    When I heard the news, the first thing that ran through my head was all my wonderful GE friends that live in Japan. I’m relieved to hear that you and your staff are all ok Richard. I pray that the others are all safe too.

    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  3. Margit

    Thanks for everyone being with people here.
    I hope and pray you guys up there in Fukushima and Sendai etc. are safe.

    I’ve been at home, in Shiga and am safe.

  4. dany

    hey there!
    I am from chile. Last year we lived the same and we lost lot of lifes.
    I know how you should feel at the moment after this, so I send to all of you my energies and good feelings
    hope you are all ok and come through this soon.

    very kind regards

  5. Nena

    glad to here your OK! keep safe.

  6. Yumiko

    I haven’t come here for quite a while because I’m not teaching children. But I’ve been worried about those teachers who live in the areas severely hit by the earthquakes and tsunami.
    I live in the western part of Japan and have no damages here.
    I hope everyone is fine.

  7. Gumby

    Thank you everyone for your concern. I know there must be quite a few who really need to read these posts! I just got a message from Julian and both he and I are safe. Some problems with electricity and running water, but nothing compared to those on the coast. My thoughts are of those in temporary shelters and/or looking for loved ones.

  8. richard

    Excellent ! Very good to hear you are ok.

  9. Rosebud

    Like Carol, the first thoughts in my head were of all of you in Japan. I checked up on the Genki website but found nothing. I am glad to hear that some of you are well, sincerely pray for the others. Let us know more when you can.

  10. Carol

    Thank you Yumiko and Gumby for your news!!! I was concerned about you and your families… The news we get here sounds worse with each day that passes. You are all in my thoughts.

  11. Carol

    PS I’m glad to hear about Margit and Julian too!!

  12. Flossy

    SO pleased to hear everyone is ok.

  13. Bese Eva

    We are all with you Richard and our Genki friends living in Japan.Γ‰va from Hungary

  14. Lines

    It’s great to hear that everybody is OK. I’m afraid about the nuclear power station. best wishes from Spain because when this kind of natural disasters hapens I don’t know what can I say.

  15. Kobekid

    good to hear Gumby and Julian are safe and well! I’m at school here in Kobe, but heard on the radio this morning that over 1000 schools will not be having class today. Please keep the people in northern Japan in your thoughts.

    Was wondering if any of you in Japan are going to discuss the earthquake in any of your classes? I want to do something with my 5th and 6th graders tomorrow. It’s ironic that on the bulletin boards in the halls are reports the students did on the Kobe quake 15 years ago. Many of the pictures look the same as the ones on TV and the internet at the moment.

  16. Margit

    Kobe kid,

    as you ask I just sent a mail to Richard, as I am also thinking a lot of how to plan my lessons.
    I’m not sure if this is the place to write this, so I sent the mail to Richard, but concerning your question I copy it here anyway:

    relieved that Julian and Aimee are okay in first place, …today the “first week after” has started.
    I’m sure you are thinking and sensing a lot, and I know you are thinking about a fitting blog post for everyone.
    Everyone in the world is worrying about different things, the closer by the more people are concerned about the people suffering, waiting for rescue and waiting for loved once. What ever we are thinking and feeling the fact is that nothing will be again as it was before the earthquake.

    Now, for us educators, especially the ones in Japan I feel that it is very important how we deal with this situation and how we face our lessons this week.
    Though kids first of all seem to see only “sensation” and to be going on their fun and playing day, I noticed with my own kids, and also with their friends that deep inside they are scared. Some more some less. They are getting mad at the TV bringing nothing but Tsunami and earthquake pictures, but those pictures touch them. I’ve noticed before that kids around 2nd,3rd grade think a lot about dead anyway, so I’m not surprised that with my own kids my daughter is terrified most.
    While I think it is very important that the kids notice, that all this is horrible, and also get to think about what they can do for this situation, I feel the strong need to embrace them and give them the security that things will be okay. (Maybe this sounds ridiculous, sorry) To be able to do this, I need to feel this security first~also this may sound ridiculous as who knows? But feeling scared and worried is the least that will help.

    I’ve been wondering last night a lot, how to face my kids this week, and how I can start a “everyday life” from today on.

    I think there is something that I can do in this situation even if I’m not right there, but I need to really get in touch with my inner strength. I would really appreciate if you could write down something that gives us this strength and lets us care for our students and kids as they need it.

    Take care and thanks a lot for this wonderful circle of people you created

  17. richard

    Hi Margit

    There’s no way we’re going to win the emotional battle here especially with regards the foreign CNN / BBC media. I think it’s totally irresponsible the way they are mistranslating the Japanese and incredibly over hyping things. At least the Japanese media is more balanced concentrating on what people can do rather than sensationalism.

    I remember Tonester writing on the forum that after the earthquake he was in he was told the reason he was so disorientated was that he could never again think of “solid ground” , it wasn’t supposed to move, but it did.

    So, speaking as a total non expert on this, I think the only way is to concentrate on the numbers and the science. We can’t counter the emotional attacks from the media but we can help put the numbers into some sort of perspective. For example how many people die each year from illness, car accidents or even war, things that are preventable but we just ignore. Dale Carnegie says worrying is of no use, we just have to do whatever we can do something about, like learning what to do when there is an Earthquake, and just let everything else go, like worrying about future earthquakes because they are just part of being on planet Earth.

    It’s a similar thing with the nuclear plants, the media is preying on people not knowing what exactly happens in a nuclear reactor. A meltdown sounds horrible, but light water reactors are not nuclear bombs. If the kids understand more of the science they can judge what is happening and even more importantly they can learn what to do if things did get worse there.

    With regards Japan getting over this, it will. The Kobe earthquake was horrific but you go there now and you’d never realize anything had happened. It’s even the same with Hiroshima or Nagasaki, they went through even worse events but today you would never even know.

    I hope this doesn’t sound heartless, but I know from speaking with people who have been through disasters that knowledge is the key that let’s you frame and try to understand things in your head. As I said let’s concentrate on everthing we can do and not worry about things that are out of our control.

  18. Roger

    Glad you guys are OK, I am OK here in Hokkaido. My thoughts are with those in affected areas

  19. Gumby

    KobeKid can you ask around and ask what helped your colleagues get through their ordeal. Obviously now what is needed most is food, water, and electricity. Then when things get to settled down I think it would be helpful to have words of support. I am willing to help collect cards and letters and find a way to get them distributed to the various schools. Maybe something short. I can help with translation from English to Japanese. Maybe even get a page on GE with simple Japanese γŒγ‚“γ°γ£γ¦γγ γ•γ„γ€‚that children can copy. I think it is such a horrible tragedy but I have truly been touched by all the letters of concern and I think it would be a tremendous boost to the children if they got letters from around the world. I think it will also help children of the world to know that there are things they can do to help. What do you all think?

  20. Margit

    Hi Richard,

    thanks a lot. I think that was exactly what I wanted to hear. I really admire how Japanese people deal with this situation, and I feel that I’ve learned a lot the last 20 years from them and my living here. Still I’m not half way there.

    Anyway, this post got me back.

  21. richard

    @Gumby: messages from around the World sounds a great idea. Even if we can’t get them up North yet, it would be so good to start collecting messages that we could send later. videos letters from other kids around the world I would imagine would be so nice.

    @margit: Glad that helped a little. The impression that struck me the most was changing from the BBC which was saying “panic!!!!” to Japanese TV which had everyone out on the streets beginning to clean things up.

  22. Margit

    Super idea! Can I get this request out to Germany right away?

  23. Jocely Kikuchi

    I have no idea what to say, I don’t know exactly what to react as I had expereienced once here in Japan, so my heart now is getting solid and acting like a stone. but I liked the words that Richard said, “worrying is of no use” For me, Prayer is the best way to extend a helping- hands. If anybody wants to chip-in financially count me one care of Genki English charity donation to whom victim- people you wanted to comfort and help.
    Personally, I was glad to read all the comments written I felt I joined the tweeter net working and I am not alone.

  24. Gumby

    Video sounds great, but you run into lots of problems with equipment and formats.

    Let’s put our heads together to think of a good way to handle all of this. My first guess is to keep it simple, cards and drawings and messages of hope. You can send them to my Board of Education and maybe we can get something coordinated. Maybe even involve my JHS in some translating…

  25. richard

    Hi Gumby
    I was thinking digital because physical things have to be carried, stored etc. Which probably isn’t a good idea if people are in evacuation centers for a long time. But digital, even just digital photos of drawings etc., can be shared on cell phones, sent from overseas for free and be shown to lots of people. Maybe?

  26. richard

    Glad to hear you’re safe Roger!

  27. sussie

    so happy to hear you’re all safe!

  28. Roger

    Thanks Richard, but my moving plans are all up in the air now

  29. richard

    Ho Roger, I was about to ask about that! Let me know if there’s anything I can help with!

  30. julian

    Hi everyone and thanks for your concern.

    As Gumby said, we here in Aizu are not too badly affected. Certainly not at all by the tsunami, though from the quake there are damaged roads, ripped up train lines and subsequently limited supplies in the shops.

    The big worry is about the reactors, but as Richard says, it all depends on who you are reading. I was at work yesterday and it was pretty much a normal day. Then I got home, checked the news (bbc) and facebook and was suddenly dumped in a world of panic, scaremongerng, wild statistics, exaggerations, downright lies and heart-wrenching melodrama.

    Meanwhile, on the Japanese news, relative calm and measured emotions…or are they just not telling us everything? Who can we believe?

    In the meantime, I have to decide what is best for my family, making decisions that will have huge repercussions, which ever way I decide.

  31. richard

    Hi Julian
    It is so good to hear from you!

    With regards the reactors my limited experience with this would suggest that the localized radiation is the problem and I would certainly evacuate even just outside the official zones.

    Actually if you have the choice then moving as far away as possible for the time being would probably be best.

    I would also trust the Japanese media especially NHK as although their mandate is to not cause panic they also have a mandate to correctly inform the public. Having said the BBC does have a very good q&a page about the

  32. Margit

    Oh Julian,
    it’ s so good to hear from you!

    If there is anything I can do, please get in touch.
    I don’t know if you have family or people outside the official zone to evacuate, on the other hand for the meantime it might be a too tough decision to leave the country right away; if you want your family safe, and need some time to think I’m sure I can find ways around myself.
    Take care.

  33. julian

    Thanks Richard & Margit!
    If we do decide to evacuate, it’d only be to elsewhere in Japan. We have friends down south. Thanks for the offer, Margit.
    The problem will be how to get anywhere. Petrol is in short supply and buses are fully booked days ahead. Trains aren’t moving at all.
    Plus, I’d have to convince my wife that it is OK in such a situation to miss work for a while!

  34. richard

    Julian & Gumby: Is there anything we can do for you?

  35. Gumby

    Thank you for your concern. We are doing pretty well in Yamagata, considering all that is happening. Mostly we are worried about our neighbors. There are mixed messages about the reactor here. I guess you have to stay calm and prepare as best you can.

    If anyone wanted to help out, the best bet would be a monetary contribution to a trusted organization.

  36. Tonester

    It is so sad that something so tragic can happen in such a beautiful country. My own experience made me distrustful of the ground under me for quite a long time and through talking about it with people and telling my students about it in Australia I have been able to come to terms with it.

    2 weeks since I told my students, this tragedy happens and I have been able to connect my talk with it. I still have shots for those 2 dead boys and it grieves me to think of the extensive damage and loss of life.

    I’d love to go over and help, but I have my work over here cut out for me at the moment. My heart goes out to all those affected and I will pray for all of them.

  37. julian

    Richard, as Gumby says, thanks for your concern. With you, we can be sure it is genuine.

    Here in Aizu, we are also relatively fine. Life has changed and the days are filled with worry, confusion and aftershocks, but we can get most foodstuffs (rationed, in some cases, but available) and we have electricity and gas.

    Schools are still open, though for me most classes have finished for the term.

    Several friends are evacuating, but I think we are staying put.

    Again, to second Gumby’s words, aid is best given to those further to the east, and through a trustworthy organisation.

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