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Office of News & Public Affairs

BC Students Studying in Japan are Safe; Outreach Continues to Japanese Students at BC

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (3-15-11) - Six Boston College students studying in Japan this semester are safe following the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Northern Japan last week.

Bernd Widdig, director of BC’s Office of International Programs, confirmed that three of the six students are currently in Japan, while three are in the United States during the Japanese Spring Break.  The students are studying at Waseda and Sophia University universities in Tokyo, which are located approximately 380 kilometers from the center of the earthquake.

Widdig said that his office is working with the students and the overseas directors to determine the appropriate course of action for the students, including whether the full-year students at Waseda University should continue their studies and whether the students at Sophia university should begin classes when they resume on April 1.

"I am in consultation with BC administrators and have been in contact with a number of colleagues in the study-abroad programs that have students enrolled at Waseda and Sophia universities," said Widdig.

"The situation remains very fluid, information is contradictory, and there is no consensus amongst the study-abroad professionals on how to proceed. Since we have no sufficient evidence at the moment how the situation will evolve, especially with regard to the nuclear reactors and possible severe aftershocks, we have asked our students to give us a couple more days to come to a decision. We hope to have a clearer picture soon, and we will work with the students about tuition and course issues should we come to the conclusion that they should not attend our partner universities for the Spring semester," said Widdig.

In addition, the Office of International Students & Scholars has reached out to the two undergraduate, six exchange and 12 graduate students from Japan who are studying at Boston College. All have confirmed that their families are safe.

As part of BC's continued outreach, Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Rombalski will host a dinner for the Japanese students at Boston College on March 16.

Administrators said that additional plans are underway to support our Japanese exchange and degree-seeking students in such a difficult time, including through a memorial service. Donations can also be made through Catholic Relief Services, working through Caritas Japan, at or through the American Red Cross at

Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.