PS 122 in Astoria is one of several schools in Queens attempting to fold 1,000 paper cranes in a gesture of support for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In traditional Japanese culture, the collection of 1,000 cranes is said to ensure good fortune and is associated with good will.
The effort, led by Mina Nakjima-Wu, the mother of a student at the school, is meant to show solidarity for the Japanese. Members of Nakjima-Wu’s family remain in Japan, including her mother. Seeing the people there suffer as they are is devastating, she said. Nakjima-Wu said she wanted to do something to benefit the Japanese that would be educational for students at the same time. Seeing the children construct cranes and enjoy what they are doing brings a smile to her face.
“Watching the news is so depressing; all I do is sit at home and cry and this gives me something else to focus on,” Nakjima-Wu said.
Many students making cranes in the 4th grade class said they enjoyed the experience. One student, Maria Psyllios, a fourth grader from Astoria, said it was important to make cranes so the Japanese people would feel like they had hope. Maria said constructing the cranes was difficult because they had never done anything like this in school before.
“It was easy in the beginning, and then it got very hard,” Maria said in talking about how it was to make so many cranes.
One of her classmates, Olivia Vasquez, shared similar sentiments. Olivia said she learned that it is important to help people even in the smallest way.
“It made me feel like a good person,” Olivia said.
The teachers said they are very proud of their students’ efforts and feel it is important to take part in the cross-cultural activity. Second-grade teacher Larissa Marchesi said it is a vital opportunity that allows the school to teach students about what is going on in the world. PS 122 Principal Pamela Sabel was delighted that her staff, parents and students were working so hard to assist those in Japan.
“The idea of creating the paper crane is emotionally healthy,” Sabel said.
Other schools also constructing cranes are the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights, Our World Neighborhood Charter School in Astoria and PS 234 in Astoria.
The cranes will be displayed on a bulletin board in the school upon completion.