UNC grad returns from Japan teaching program
Posted March 22, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — A University of North Carolina graduate enrolled in the Japanese Exchange Teaching Program said Tuesday that she was almost assigned to the country’s coast, where an earthquake and tsunami caused devastation and killed a fellow teacher.
Margie Wiggins, 23, of Emerald Isle, said she didn’t personally know JET program member Taylor Anderson, whose body was found 10 days after the disaster, but the entire teaching community was reeling from the loss.
Wiggins said she almost got the coastal city assignment that went to Anderson.
“She wanted the coast, but fortunate for her and us, she didn’t get the coast,” her father, Leonard Wiggins, said.
Instead, Margie Wiggins was placed further inland in the Iwate Prefecture, about 150 miles from the coast.
Although her school was shaken up and shifted in the quake, Margie Wiggins said she had a hard time convincing her family that she was OK.
“It’s hard to reassure them of that so far away and that’s why I had to come home, so they knew,” she said.
During her time in Japan, Wiggins said she saw the amazing resiliency of the people there. Wiggins said even with shortages, her host family kept providing food for them.
“I did not have heating in my apartment that was not electric. They did, so they kept me warm in their home,” she said. “It’s hard to leave them knowing they’re going through the hardships with the food and gas shortages.”
Wiggins said she wants to return to her class in Japan if the radiation threat ends.
“I’m going to keep my eye on the situation, especially the nuclear reactors,” she said.