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Japanese high schoolers create video to encourage disaster-hit Kentucky

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Students of Miichuo High School form words of encouragement while other students from a music club play an accompanying song in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Friday.

KURUME, Fukuoka — Japanese high school students have created a video to encourage young people in Kentucky, where scores were killed by recent tornadoes. A teacher has finished editing the video and it was emailed to a Kentucky high school Wednesday.

In the video, shooting for which took place Friday, 233 students from Miichuo High School in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, stood on the school ground and formed letters for “AS ONE,” while students from a music club were playing the theme song from the movie “Stand By Me.” Students from a taiko Japanese drum club contributed a dynamic performance.

A student spoke in English in the video. “We want to send our prayers and encouragement to those who have lost homes or loved ones.”

Since September, Miichuo students have been interacting online with some students who are learning Japanese at Lafayette High School in Kentucky. An acquaintance of Miichuo Principal Akira Oyama, who lives near the U.S. school, has been contributing to the exchanges between the two schools.

In the United States, tornadoes ripped through the South and Midwest on Dec. 10. Lafayette High School itself was not affected by the disaster, but Miichuo students decided to send a video, considering the dramatic circumstances the U.S. students experienced.

The Japanese students hope the video will go viral and be seen by many students in the disaster-hit state, in addition to Lafayette students.

Many of Miichuo’s students have also been affected by natural disasters. The area where the school is located is often damaged by the heavy rain in the summer, and many students’ homes have been flooded. Since 70% of students use a local railway line, schools have also been closed when the line was suspended due to a natural disaster.

Mimi Kumade, president of the student body council, said. “We could put our strong sympathy [in the video] especially because we ourselves have experienced natural disasters. We hope the video will make many people [in Kentucky] feel a little better.”