Wartburg foreign exchange students have their mind on Japan - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wartburg foreign exchange students have their mind on Japan

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -- Masa Hirakawa has a lot on his plate right now. He's graduating in a few months, and organizing part of culture week on Wartburg Campus.

So when he heard about an earthquake hitting his homeland early Friday morning, he didn't think too much about it. After all, in Japan, earthquakes are something you get used to dealing with.

"It should be fine, it was at night, so I just slept all night," he said.

When he woke up, he realized this wasn't a common event.

"I saw whole buildings like, tsunami and shops collapsing. I couldn't believe. I thought, oh my, this is not the usual one," Hirakawa recalled.

The video was shocking, and you can imagine what was going through Hirakawa's head as he tried again and again to call home.

"I called several times, I couldn't catch up with them," he said. Once he finally got through, he "tried to make sure they're safe first, and then what's going on in my house, in our house."

Through Facebook he's checking on his friends back home, all of whom are safe. But with the transit system at a standstill, many of them are not able to go home.

"Some people are staying at colleges or parks," said Hirakawa.

While he's trying to continue life as normal back here in Iowa, he's praying for his homeland, and hoping others will do the same.

"Pray for them, pray for us. Pray for people living or staying in Japan," he added.

There are several ways you can help Japan recover from these disasters. Text the word "Japan" to 80888 to give a $10 donation to the Salvation Army's earthquake relief work.

You can also donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting "redcross" to 90999.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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