Centre College Japanese instructor Fumie Bouvier called her family in Japan early this morning, after a huge earthquake and resulting tsunami rocked the northern part of the county.
“Everything is OK, I think,” she said. “I couldn’t get through.”
She said the earthquake measured a magnitude of about 5 on the Richter scale in her hometown, which she noted is “very strong.”
The earthquake caused a devastating tsunami to crash onto the northeastern coast of Japan, but Bouvier hopes her family is far enough away from the coast to avoid damage.
“My family’s place is not that close, but it’s not over the mountain, either,” she said.
No Centre students currently are studying in Japan because the school’s exchange program with Yamaguchi Prefectural University runs only in the fall semester. However, three Japanese students from Yamaguchi, which is south of Tokyo, are currently studying at Centre, said Milton Reigelman, director of international programs.
“I think probably the damage there was minimal,” he said.
Media Information Coordinator Abigail Malik confirmed at least four Centre alumni are currently in Japan.
Three of those graduates are teaching English in various citites as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. Centre has been unable to contact these alumni, but one of the JET participants, 2008 graduate Eric Wilson, who is teaching in Yamaguchi, posted an encouraging Facebook message on Centre’s wall this morning.
“I’ve spoken to or seen Facebook posts from all the Centre alums here on the JET Program, and everyone is safe!” it read.
Bouvier said she will continue to try and call her family throughout the day today, but she is hopeful they are OK.
“They’re in a safe place,” she said.