NU-Q students send a message of hope to Japan

May 09, 2011 - 12:45:47 am

DOHA: Two students at the Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) have launched a website and social media project aimed at helping victims of the tsunami in Japan.

Northwestern juniors Shannon Farhoud and Rana Khaled recently launched the site to help raise funds for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.

“We wanted to send a message of hope to Japan,” said Farhoud. “And we thought the site was a good way to do it.”

The site showcases the students’ work, provides a place for users to submit their own Japan-inspired pictures or drawings and to make a donation to a victims’ fund. Farhoud and Khalad, who are both completing journalism residencies in Washington DC this spring, had originally planned to create only a media project around Washington’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

But the pair decided to tie the project to the Japan fund raising after the tsunami struck and learning that Washington’s cherry trees were given as a gift from Japan in 1912. “We wanted to connect the story and the website to Japan to show that people in DC are still thinking about them,” Farhoud said in a phone call from Washington.

So far the site has been a success. It has received about 50 media submissions from people around the world, including Qatar, the United States, Canada, Oman and Saudi Arabia. All of the submissions answer the question “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cherry Blossoms?”

The site has received drawings of blossoms, paintings and typography in English and Japanese. The site has also received about $500 in donations that will be sent to Japan. The pair is working with KinderUSA, which has agreed to match any donations the site collects and brings the total amount of raised funds to about $1,000.

KinderUSA has also agreed to distribute the money and messages of hope the site collects to schoolchildren in Japan. will continue to accept both artwork and donations through the month of May. “We’ve done well so far,” Farhoud said, “hopefully we can raise some more money in our time here.” The Peninsula