Tsunami Volunteer Wins Dilena Takeyama Center Scholarship

September 27, 2013
Photo of Danielle L. Royston in Japan
Danielle L. Royston (center) is surrounded by new friends in Japan.

Danielle Lynette Royston, a San Francisco State University student who did volunteer work in northern Japan after the 2011 disaster, has been named a winner in the Dilena Takeyama Center’s first scholarship program.

The $3,500 award is helping her to attend Waseda University in Tokyo this year as part of the study abroad program. Royston is a junior majoring in Japanese studies. She is interested in working on issues of food and community. She is concerned about how the mass production of food may detrimentally affect the environment and local communities.

In her application, she said that her concerns about the food supply and the environment were born out when she volunteered to help relief agencies in northern Japan after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster. She remembers helping a rice farmer who feared that his crop would be contaminated by radiation.

“Solutions to this crisis include local organic farming or lobbying with politicians,” she wrote in an application. “I would like to focus, in my career and time abroad, on reintroducing community into our societies.”

At Waseda University, she in the School of International Liberal Studies. She has enrolled in classes on Japanese language, communication, history and, of course, food. She is also taking a course in global environmental systems.

“Many of the courses I am taking this semester are going to give me a solid foundation in understanding what is called the ‘Japanese Identity,’ based upon history, language, and societal values,” she wrote in an e-mail from Japan. “I will also be able to get a closer look at the popular opinion here on environmental issues such as global warming, energy use, food safety, etc.”

Her first order of business was to adjust to her new surroundings. She misses San Francisco’s coffee roasters and farmers markets.

“My first few days in Japan were a whirlwind of orientations and planned trips around Tokyo with two student groups from Waseda University,” she said. “The Waseda students have been very friendly and helpful during my time of adjustment here.”

The Dilena Takeyama Center launched the scholarship program to assist students in the U.S. and Japan who plan to utilize their studies and future careers in ways that promote improved relations between the two countries.