A year ago you may remember that I was desperately trying to use all social media outlets to find a classmate and friend of mine, Taylor Anderson. She came out of the earthquake unscathed but we lost her in the tsunami in Ishinomaki. She was the first American victim confirmed in the tsunami. To this day, she is only one of two Americans whose bodies were recovered. I remember I was on Siesta Key over Spring Break when her body was found, and my friend Jessee sent me a text. And it hurt. So badly. We had SO much hope that she was in the attic of a building - safe but hungry - like so many miracle stories from that day. But that was not meant to be for her, and it was so so bittersweet.
The below video was on CBS News Sunday Morning yesterday, March 11, 2012:
Yesterday, our shared alma mater, Randolph-Macon College, hosted an event which was both in honor of Taylor but to also show the community how Japan is continuing to move forward - a quite difficult task.
Right before Christmas, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP) gave Randolph-Macon College a wonderful gift - 100,000 for 2011-2012, with gifts pledged for the next five years. These gifts go towards a scholarship, scholar-in-residence, foundation lecture, as well as establishing a memorial collection of Japanese literature and film. The giving program is called "Honoring the Life, Work and Good Spirit of Taylor Anderson—Enhancing Japanese Studies at Randolph-Macon College."
Taylor loved Japan, improving her speaking skills, and everything within the Japanese culture. She was fully involved in the community and loved her students. She was so, so happy there.
Courtesy of the Anderson family
Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki bows his head as he thanks Americans for their help after the tsunami last night at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia:
Credit: Eva Russo/TIMES-DISPATCH
Please visit St. Catherine's page on Taylor Lane Anderson. Ways the money has already been used can be read below (taken from St. Catherine's site):
"Taylor’s fund will support the Asahigaoku Gakuen orphanage in Kessenuma and initial support has been started by Smile Kids with a delivery of toys, Wii gaming systems and educational materials. Fourteen of the children had a very successful English Adventure summer camp experience in August. Taylor’s fund will sponsor the Christmas Wish program this year, which will provide gifts the children specifically want and a Christmas party on December 24.Consider a donation in her honor, for her fund, to assist the children of Japan.
In early September, the Anderson family traveled to Japan to establish the Taylor Anderson Reading Corners, or Taylor Bunko as they are called, in the seven schools in Ishinomaki where she taught English as part of the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program. Each Taylor Bunko has 60 of Taylor’s favorite children’s books and more than 200 additional books selected by the schools.
Taylor Scholarships will provide financial assistance to Ishinomaki high school graduates to attend Sendai YMCA College starting with the school year beginning April 2013. The scholarships will be provided to those students who have suffered from the disasters and will be provided by Taylor’s Fund and the YMCA.
JET Micro Grants will provide financial support to enhance English language and foreign culture programs initiated by Miyagi/Sendai JET (MAJET) program participants. This program empowers JETs to go beyond the classroom to be active participants and leaders in their schools and communities.
Taylor's fund helps support the Fruit Tree Project. Paul Yoo and Minami Ishikawa organized the Fruit Tree Project to take fresh fruit to shelters which has been not only nutritionally helpful, but has lifted the spirits of all those they have helped. The fruit they provide is a good supplement to the rice and miso soup provided at the shelters.
It is very important to Taylor's family, friends and donors that 100 percent of the funds raised will be used for the benefit of the schools, students and families in Taylor's area. Taylor’s family feels blessed that Taylor's high school, St. Catherine's in Richmond, VA is donating their time and services to administer the fund. Ishinomaki BOE, Smile Kids Japan, and the Fruit Tree Project contribute 100% of what they receive to the projects we identify with them.
“We think Taylor would be very proud of this,” Andy Anderson, Taylor’s father said. “Her spirit encourages us and gives us the strength to do our best in her honor and keep her spirit alive in all of us.”
Activities on behalf of Taylor and Taylor’s Fund to date include: appearances at St. Catherine’s School (two), Randolph-Macon College, Japanese Ambassador’s Thank You Barbecue, National Jet Alumni Conference, Japan Sports Visitors Program at Ripken Baseball Academy, and the Taylor Anderson Reading Corner Dedication in Ishinomaki, Japan. The family also accepted the Luminary Award for Taylor at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of NY annual dinner, made an appearance at the Atlanta Consulate Reception in Atlanta and the Anime USA Festival in Washington, D.C. Taylor’s Fund was a beneficiary of The American Chamber of Commerce Japan Charity Ball held in December."
Local teacher remembered one year after Japan tsunami, on CBS6.