FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

chap.IVPatient Relief Activity Records [Essays and Research Publications]FUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Line207of caregivers in the midst of a crisis requires more than just rearranging an academic calendar. It may be time to rethink the academic calendar, and redefine the scope of our campus.” Whether or not my answer is published, I hope to post a link to the article, due this summer.Some FMU students already look beyond our campus for opportunities to learn and to serve. One was doing clinical work overseas when our crisis began: “I tried to work harder, telling myself that I could and had to do my best as a representative of Japanese medical students and Fukushima Medical University.”Here is my email reply to the medical student, edited for generality.May 8, 2011The entrance ceremony for new students was held Friday morning, May 6. Like other recent events, this one began with a minute of silence. Perhaps for anyone entering a care-giving profession, this ritual should be the norm rather than the exception. Near or far, there will always be people in need.Another exceptional event for new students was Friday afternoon’s lecture and discussion about radiation. Professor Shun-ichi Yamashita of Nagasaki University and the Atom Bomb Disease Institute was our keynote speaker. His extensive research of the Chernobyl nuclear accident is sobering, but for our situation, reassuring. Following Professor Yamashita, FMU Professor Tatsuo Suzutani talked students through handouts about current radiation levels around campus. He encouraged everyone to follow the data online and, according to interest, do spreadsheets to calculate personal exposure according to time spent in various locations inside and out. To put our situation in perspective, I will quote Professor Ohto’s recent email to a concerned transfusion specialist in the American Midwest: “The radiation level in Fukushima City is now much less than that of Eastern European countries, but almost the same as Denmark.”In between the morning entrance ceremony and the afternoon session on radiation, new students faced the time-honored ritual of club recruitment. Clubs are an important part of Japanese university life, contributing to physical fitness, mental agility, and the ability to work as part of a team. Count me among the teaching staff who sometimes lament that students spend too much time with clubs, but then, we also think that students spend Dear *****,Thank you for writing. Yes, things have changed since the earthquake. I hope all in your family are safe and well.Some students have returned ahead of term. The student cafeteria will reopen May 2, and the hospital cafeteria is back to a full menu. Lately, though, I’ve been making my own lunches. People are anxious about radioactive iodine and cesium in their food, but I have to worry about salt.You know a lot about culture shock, and its challenging cousin, reverse culture shock. These are neither good nor bad, except for what you make of them. Reverse culture shock might be particularly interesting for you this time around. You learned a lot, and surely changed, in your month away. Meanwhile, your classmates and your university have also changed.Of 110 students invited to our first year class, 11 will not be coming. Among this year’s graduates, at least one who planned to stay for residency withdrew. These are personal decisions worthy of respect.Courageous people can almost always re-invent themselves, even in old age, but thoughts, decisions, and actions in one’s prime are rather important. I predict that this year will be one of the defining phases of your life.Welcome back to a different place.Kind regards,Kenneth E. Nollet