Mar 22

JET alum keynotes Japan ICU Foundation Sake Tasting and Japan Relief Fundraiser in New York


By JET alum Mark Flanigan

JET alum Mark Flanigan (center) with colleagues from the Japan ICU Foundation at the March 5 Fundraising event (Photo: Lawrence Tsuyuki)

The Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF) hosted a special Sake Tasting & Fundraiser at the Penn Club in New York City on Monday, March 5 to help raise funds for International Christian University’s (ICU) ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts after the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.

Over 100 esteemed guests from the US, Japan and many other countries came for the evening in support of this charitable event, which was organized by JICUF Program Director Tara DeWorsop. JET Alumnus Mark Flanigan, a current ICU Rotary International Peace Fellow, gave a short keynote presentation describing the variety of ways in which ICU has been supporting the recovery efforts. These include a new joint-psychological relief program in Sendai, continuing student volunteer efforts and the Earthquake Tuition Waiver Fund.

The sake tasting was led by sake connoisseur Timothy Sullivan from and the sake for the event was graciously donated by   Joto Sake. The founder of Joto Sake, Henry Sidel, was a student at ICU’s Summer Japanese Language Program in the late 1980s. A silent auction of different Japan-related goods, including a rare Kimono, also took place during the same event. In total, approximately $10,000 was raised from the evening.

These funds raised will support the work of the East Japan Center for Free Clinical-Educational Service (震災復興 心理・教育臨床センター” 震災復興 心理・教育臨床センター) in Sendai. The Center was founded by ICU professor Hide Kotani after the disaster and provides free psychological counseling to survivors from March 11th. Funds will also go to support the efforts of ICU students who continue to volunteer in the Tohoku region, as well as the Earthquake Tuition Waiver Fund for those ICU students whose families were impacted by the unique triple-disaster.

For those who are interested in donating to these ongoing efforts, please feel free to contact the JICUF at:

About the author

Mark Flanigan currently lives on the campus of International Christian University (ICU) / 国際基督教大学 in Tokyo, where he is finishing up his 2-year MA in Peace Studies as a Rotary International Peace Fellow. He is also a Resident Assistant Tutor in the Global House dormitory, which houses an equal number of Japanese and International students. Following graduation, Mark will move to New York City to work as a Program Director with the Japan ICU Foundation. 

For more specific information on the Rotary Peace Fellowship, the current application is available at You can also find a local Rotary Club for endorsement at

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