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UNI history department to raise funds for tsunami relief

April 12, 2011

Yayoi Teramoto Moreland, UNI senior programmer analyst, ITS - Information Systems, 319-273-6983,

Stacey Christensen, UNI community relations manager, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – In response to the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan, the Department of History at the University of Northern Iowa will hold three events to raise funds for those affected.

Reinier H. Hesselink, UNI professor of Japanese history who is familiar with the devastated area, will present a slideshow-lecture presentation about the three communities on Japan's Iwate Coast most impacted by the disaster: Miyako, Yamada and Taro. Hesselink's presentation will also include an analysis of a comparable disaster that occurred nearly 1,200 years ago and images of life in the three coastal communities before, during and after the earthquake/tsunami.

The presentation will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, April 15, at Cedar Heights Presbyterian Church, 2015 Rainbow Dr. in Cedar Falls. A second showing will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, in 115 Seerley Hall on the UNI campus.

The film "Hura Garu" ("Hula Girls") will be shown at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, in 115 Seerley Hall. This award-winning Japanese film based on real-life events shows how a group of girls learned to hula dance to save their small mining village. Their efforts also helped create the Joban Hawaiian Center (now known as Spa Resort Hawaiians), one of Japan's most popular theme parks.

The lectures and film screening are free and open to the pubic. The history department established an account to collect donations for relief efforts, and the public is encouraged to donate when they attend the events. In addition, Cedar Valley Japan Club members made ornaments from Japanese paper. The ornaments will be sold at both the lecture and film screening, with proceeds going toward UNI's Japan Relief Fund.