Jen Wang (Miyagi, 2008-09) is a lab tech in Dallas and a staff writer for the Japanese music website Purple SKY. Her love of cosplay and her junior high school students inspired the name for her own Japanese pop culture blog, Hibari-sensei’s Classroom.
In response to the Tohoku earthquake, community initiative Southlake Working As a Team (S.W.A.T.) joined forces with Southlake Sister Cities, the City of Southlake, and the Carroll Independent School District to form Southlake 4 Japan. The organization dedicated itself to helping Southlake’s sister city, Tome, which suffered damage to its buildings and roads and struggled to accommodate the evacuees from neighboring cities. Southlake’s relationship with Japan began in 1991, long before Toyoma and neighboring towns merged to form the city of Tome. Since then, the two cities have engaged in cultural and education exchange programs.
Southlake Sister Cities had already set up an earthquake relief fund and collected messages for a scrapbook, but more needed to be done to raise awareness within the community. Carroll Senior High School students Harrison Edwards and Carter Humphrey proposed the idea of a benefit concert.
Edwards felt a connection with Tome as a former student ambassador of the Sister Cities exchange program. He and Humphrey already had experience organizing such an event, having been the masterminds behind last year’s Rock for Haiti earthquake relief concert. Southlake 4 Japan was quick to help with providing a venue, publicity, and volunteers. S.W.A.T. founder and Southlake Baptist Church Lead Pastor Clayton Reed was in charge of the event programming while Edwards and Humphrey sought out bands to fill the line-up.
The concert was held on May 7 in Southlake Town Square. Attendees were encouraged to donate at least $5, which got them a wristband and a cell phone screen protector. There was an origami booth with bumper stickers for sale and food supplied by Qdoba Mexican Grill. Southlake Sister Cities provided information about Tome and collected signatures for a banner being sent to Tome’s mayor.
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