Students off to study Japan's disaster area
Five Waikato University students are heading to Japan, but instead of seeing the sights, they will see the devastating effects of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Japanese language students Andrew Greed, Christa Row, Murray Bowden, Tracy Lee and Haley de Rijk will be in Japan for nine days, fully funded by the Japanese government for The Kizuna Project.
The project funds travel for students from New Zealand and Australia to the worst-affected areas to raise awareness and promote understanding about the situation and recovery efforts there.
While the students are excited about the trip, the reason for it is weighing on them all.
Christa Row has a personal connection, after hosting a Japanese student right after the quake hit, and said the main point for her will be going to the disaster area.
"We're focusing more on the people's stories rather than the relief work, but we might also get to do some of the more hands-on work as well," she said.
Yet, despite the work they hope to do some sightseeing, especially for those like Andrew who have never been there before.
"We've got a pretty jam-packed schedule, but we do a homestay for a couple of nights so I'm hoping to go round and have a look at the area," he said.
"[The tsunami] was quite devastating, the images were pretty intense.
"I can't imagine what it would've been like, or what it will be like now."
The students leave for Japan on December 9.