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Exploris Middle School principal tells about Japan trip

Posted March 14, 2011
Updated March 18, 2011

Update from Exploris Middle School Principal Kevin Piacenza:

I am at the school in Hiroshima now and have a few minutes with Internet access. Here is little info:

As we were descending on the approach to Narita Friday afternoon, the plane suddenly began to ascend and the pilot came on to tell us that there was a heavy earthquake impacting the Tokyo area and we would be diverted to Nagoya, then it was Osaka. After another 90 minutes in the air, we circled for an hour or so and then finally landed, but sat on the runway for another two hours before going through customs. This was after about a 13-hour flight from Dallas. All the passengers were put on buses, and taken through customs. From there, we were back on buses and all put up at the Osaka Hyatt, very nice with dinner and breakfast passes – American Airlines.

The next morning we decided to try and get to Hiroshima on our own rather than head back to Narita and the possibility of more earthquake activity. We took a bus from the hotel to the subway station and took the subway to the bullet train station. The 10 of us were pulling our luggage through the maze of the subway trying to find the right route and buy tickets. Luckily people were eager to help us and we made it to the train. We waited in a long line to get on the Shinkansen, again relying on the kindness of strangers to point us in the right direction and negotiate tickets. After an 90 minute train ride, we were in Hiroshima. The kids handled this very well and after meeting their host families at the school, went to their homestays.

The TV is constant news on every channel about the earthquake and the devastation shown is profound. People in Hiroshima are very focused on it and most people have friends or relatives affected. Yesterday, we drove north to Okayama and the highway was lined with defense force caravans on the road to Tokyo. Troop carriers, heavy equipment, generators, etc were headed north one after the other.

At school this morning, the student body assembled to welcome us, but first the principal talked about the quake victims and asked for a period of silent prayer. People here are saying it is the worst devastation for Japan since the war.

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