Stephanie Vander Heyden, Beta Phi, recently graduated with a degree in Japanese from the University of Montana. She has been living in Takasaki, Japan, between Tokyo and Nagano, about 250 miles south of Sendai and teaching English at three elementary schools. The following is a first-person account of the earthquake in Japan on November 21.
All children take English as their foreign language, and it is mandatory curriculum even in elementary school. I was finishing my year as an English teacher when on November 21, 2016, at 2:40 p.m., a 7.4 earthquake hit Japan and created a life-changing event.
I was in the classroom when the earthquake hit, and I dove under my desk. (I’m a native of Seattle so I know you seek cover when the earth begins to shake.) The earthquake lasted three minutes and since I was located about 250 miles away from the epicenter, it really was not that strong. After the quake stopped I realized that everyone had left the building, so I joined everyone outside and was instructed to sit with the children while the teachers huddled together to form a plan.