North­eastern Uni­ver­sity freshman Runa Maeda pan­icked when she could not reach her par­ents, in Yoko­hama, Japan, for more than a day after the country suf­fered its strongest earth­quake on record and a tsunami that flooded hun­dreds of square miles of coastline.

At first it didn’t seem real,” Maeda, an archi­tec­ture major, said of the mas­sive 8.9 mag­ni­tude earth­quake that rocked the north­east coast of Japan on March 11. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Madea was one of about 100 mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity who par­tic­i­pated in a solemn cel­e­bra­tion of the strength and spirit of the people of Japan on Friday after­noon. The event, held in the Sacred Space, included a dec­la­ra­tion by Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun that North­eastern is pre­pared to sup­port all of those touched by the tragedy; and fea­tured the Hon­or­able Takeshi Hik­i­hara, consul gen­eral of Japan.

Hik­i­hara called the earth­quake an unnerving event. “It was beyond all imag­i­na­tion even for Japan, which has so much expe­ri­ence in the past with nat­ural dis­as­ters,” he said. “We need your moral sup­port. We need your compassion.”

Count­less mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity have been touched by the cat­a­strophe, which killed thou­sands of people and caused bil­lions of dol­lars in damage, including crit­ical damage to nuclear power plants that is threat­ening the country with fur­ther disaster.

Freshman elec­trical engi­neering major Waleed Alkatheeri found out about the earth­quake through a Face­book mes­sage posted by one of his friends living in Japan.

The mes­sage said, “I wish from the bottom of my heart that all my friends in Nihon are fine.”

Alkatheeri, who was born in the United Arab Emi­rates, said that people from all walks of life living in all parts of the world must turn tragedy into solidarity.

I’m wor­ried about the people in Japan,” he said. “We’re all human.”

Sus­tain­ability man­ager Carol Rosskam has a friend who lost a family member in the dis­aster. Rosskam and her friend, who met in grad­uate school at the Uni­ver­sity of Oregon, had not spoken in three years prior to last week.

I had a feeling before I called her,” said Rosskam. “I didn’t really want to hear what she had to say.”

Chem­ical engi­neering post­doc­toral research asso­ciate Kei­ichiro Kushiro has sev­eral family mem­bers in Tokyo. He said the super­mar­kets are empty, elec­tricity is scare, and the public trans­porta­tion system has come to a near stop.

Japan, he said, has the char­acter of a country that will over­come this tragedy. “Japan is a very civ­i­lized nation,” said Kushiro, who called the country his “role-​​model.”

I respect how they’re responding to the sit­u­a­tion,” he added.

Mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity are chip­ping in to help Japan recover from last week’s quake.

Stu­dents in the Japanese Cul­tural Club, for example, plan to sell greeting cards on their web­site cre­ated by a stu­dent in the Art + Design pro­gram. Pro­ceeds will go toward the relief effort.

Those inter­ested in sup­porting national relief efforts can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross or JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10 to Global Giving, a non­profit group.