East Union students create ‘Cranes of Hope’ for Japanese tsunami victims

The crane is a powerful symbol of hope and recovery in Japanese culture, so first and second graders at East Union Attendance Center are making 1,000 “Cranes of Hope” to be sold to help the families in Japan that were affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The cranes will be sold for $1 and the proceeds from the cranes will go towards the residents in the area hit hardest from the earthquake and tsunami. Anyone that purchases a crane can write a personal message that will be seen by a resident in the area.
Carrie Wilkinson, a first grader in Karen Sheffield’s class, said, “I think it will be very good to send out cranes and give them money that they need to buy wood and build houses.”
Rett Johnson, another student in the same class, said, “I want to send the cranes overseas and give children a crane to put in their room an give them money for clothes and supplies.”
East Union first graders have been visited on a weekly basis by Yukako Yamada, who is a coordinator with the Mississippi Partnership for Global Education, which is in connection with Mississippi Geographic Alliance in Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi.
Yamada has been teaching the students about Japanese culture and traditions, while also preparing them for their upcoming Japanese festival on April 28 in which they will show to the other students and faculty what they have learned about Japan and the culture and traditions that reside there.
The idea for the cranes stemmed from the crane project that the University of Mississippi recently started that is in conjunction with the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education and the North Mississippi Japanese Supplementary School at the University of Mississippi (NMJSS).
The supplementary school’s main purpose is to help Japanese families and students settle in this area and to maintain their educations and culture.
According to Yamada, people in Japan make 1,000 cranes for hope to get rid of illness or injury or to make someone’s wish come true. Therefore, 1,000 cranes will be made for the people in Japan as a symbol of hope, peace, and dreams coming true.
“A lot of people lost their homes and families and these cranes will provide hope and they will know that we are thinking of them in Mississippi and hope them well,” said Yamada.
Rachel Gentry, a first grader in Karen Sheffield’s class, said, “I think it is nice to help people and asking for nothing in return is more nice.”
Peyton Wildman, a classmate, said, “I think it’s good that we are giving stuff to the people in Japan that lost things during the earthquake and tsunami.”
Yamada lives many hours from where the disaster struck and luckily, has had no family members hurt by the earthquake and tsunami. She also teaches Japanese culture to students at H.W. Byers Elementary School in Holly Springs and at Davidson Elementary in Water Valley.
For more information on the cranes or to purchase a crane, call East Union Attendance Center at (662) 534-6920 or (662) 534-6941 and ask for Mrs. Karen Sheffield.