Japanese native reacts to nuclear fears - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Japanese native reacts to nuclear fears

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A Darton College Student from Japan says she is worried for her family members who live near the nuclear plant.  She says they've already been impacted by the quake, followed by the tsunami and that the nuclear leaks could bring even more destruction to her homeland.

We found Otoe Sugahara at work Monday.  Speaking in her native tongue to students.  She works in the foreign language lab at Darton College.  But her mind was on more than the language of Japan.  Monday, it was focused on the people.

She said, "I check up on it all day long."

She showed us some of the videos she's been watching.  There are images of people being washed away.  Images, she can't get out of her head.

She said, "Terrifying, unbelievable and I feel sad now, 'cause a lot of people knew what tsunami was, but they didn't know how big this earthquake was.  They didn't know how dangerous it was.  It was beyond what they've known, what they were thinking."

Sugahara says she's been trying to keep up with her immediate family members as much as she can.  Online and on the phone, but there are some family members no one in her family has been able to reach.

"Cousins, aunts, uncles, we can't get in touch with right now," she said, "so we have no idea how they are doing.  We are hoping they are okay."

But they live close to the nuclear power plant where leaks are feared.  If the earthquake and tsunami didn't hurt them, Sugahara is worried the radiation could.

"It can be really dangerous if the radiation keeps leaking out."  So for now, she'll keep reaching out in hopes of finding her family, half a world away.

Sugahara works in the foreign language lab at Darton.  There are several students studying Japanese who told me they would be interested in traveling to the country and practicing the language while helping in relief efforts.

Sugahara is part of the international studies program at Darton College.

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