The day after a mas­sive earth­quake and tsunami struck Japan in March, senior Ayaka Tanaka watched in horror as images of the dev­as­ta­tion in her home country flashed across TV news broad­casts and spread over the Internet. But it also made her deter­mined to help those in need.

I couldn’t believe this was hap­pening in my country,” Tanaka recalls. “I knew I needed to do some­thing. I thought about how I was lucky to be here in America, and that I could do some­thing here that people in Japan might not be able to do.”

Tanaka is one of sev­eral stu­dents who have part­nered with North­eastern to orga­nize a range of relief efforts for the people of Japan. She and her room­mate, Junko Shi­mazu, estab­lished a table in the Curry Stu­dent Center where they and other stu­dents are selling T-​​shirts, origami, candy and other items, with dona­tions going to the Japanese Red Cross. Today is the final day the table will be open.

Through dona­tions and a host of spe­cial events, North­eastern stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff have raised more than $17,000 to sup­port the people of Japan.

At an event with the Asian Amer­ican Center, stu­dents folded 2,000 origami cranes and sent them to Stu­dents Rebuild — an ini­tia­tive cre­ated by the Bezos Family Foun­da­tion, which works to ele­vate the field of edu­ca­tion and improve life out­comes for chil­dren. In turn, the foun­da­tion donated $4,000 for recon­struc­tion efforts in Japan — $2 for each crane. Stu­dents Rebuild has part­nered with DoSome​thing​.org on the effort.

Sev­eral stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions col­lab­o­rated to make and sell wrist­bands with the words, “Hope for Japan.” Stu­dents have also cre­ated a YouTube video with pic­tures of stu­dents holding notes they’ve written to sup­port the Japanese people.

Doing fundraising events made me realize Japanese people are not alone. I also real­ized that people can do more than they may think, espe­cially at a diverse uni­ver­sity like North­eastern,” Shi­mazu said.

A week after the tragedy, the Uni­ver­sity orga­nized a cel­e­bra­tion of the strength and spirit of the people of Japan.

At com­mence­ment next Friday, North­eastern will present an hon­orary degree to the people of Japan and to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambas­sador to the United States.