Angelica Rockquemore ’10

Resilience, determination reveal beauty in the wake of disaster

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The earthquake and tsunami disasters were truly humbling experiences. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting at my desk on another lovely spring afternoon with my window open to the vibrant blue sky. Suddenly, the walls of my apartment and lamp above my head began to sway like pendulums. Those brief moments of movement seemed to last forever and I did not realize the impact of them until I turned on the television and saw I was in the midst of an unbelievable moment in history. Although I was fortunate to not have been in an immediate disaster zone, the weeks following the March 11 events were experiences I will never forget and always hold in my heart.

To have been present and witness the unfolding tragedies was most certainly bittersweet. The incredible loss of life was, and continues to be, something that weighs heavily on my heart, but the beauty through it all is the utmost strength and perseverance that Japanese people exemplified following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disasters. Although my research was forced to come to a screeching halt as I followed the earthquake, no one could anticipate or predict what would happen next. Through all of the events and global media coverage, what impacted and affected me the most I like to compare to sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms).

In Japan, sakura represent the simultaneous beauty and fragility of life. During peak blooming season, the country makes great efforts to observe these precious blossoms glimmering in the sunlight and then, ever so quickly after, be taken by the wind, drifting and falling to the ground. It is this ephemeral moment of watching the sakura fall from the trees in bloom that lasts mere seconds; but to truly understand and experience it creates a valuable impact that lasts a lifetime. The earthquake and tsunami events, like the sakura, lasted seconds, but their imprint will continue to last for a lifetime. The people of Japan, through their admirable resilience and determination to repair and rebuild, have inspired me to likewise see the beauty in these disastrous moments and experiences; to have witnessed and experienced it all first-hand and to share with others the strength and perseverance of the people of Japan is a unique form of beauty that can leave an imprint that is not ephemeral, but lasts forever.