The Effect of Disaster Volunteer Experience on the Well-Being of Young People in the Great East Japan Earthquake
Yusuke Saito and Yu Ishida
Graduate School of Project Design, Miyagi University
1-1 Gakuen, Taiwa-cho, Kurokawa-gun, Miyagi 981-3298, Japan
The purpose of this study was to examine how the disaster volunteer activities of young people affect the sense of well-being of those engaged in such activities and to obtain suggestions for connecting the findings to a better future for Tohoku. In the U.S., disaster management is divided into four stages: mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. A series of studies has found differences between eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. At the disaster volunteer sites, problem-solving was done through improved autonomy and collaboration. In addition, there were many opportunities to rethink the meaning and purpose of human life. This kind of environment is conducive for people to build good relationships with others and gain autonomy and a sense of purpose in life, which are considered factors of eudaimonic well-being, which may lead to a lasting sense of well-being in their lives. We conducted a questionnaire survey and interviewed three young people who went to the area and volunteered after the Great East Japan Earthquake. From the interview survey, there was a particular influence on the change in the interviewee’s well-being due to their disaster volunteer activities. Furthermore, the impact of the unique environment with the disaster victims and other volunteers they met during the activities was significant, causing them to reexamine the fulfillment of their relationships with others and their purpose in life. On the other hand, after ten years, many issues remain to be addressed to clarify what kind of transformation these disaster volunteer activities have brought about in the lives of these individuals. How to ensure the reliability of emotions, values, and sense of well-being, which are invisible to the naked eye, is an issue for the future. Research on human well-being can contribute to addressing these emerging social issues.
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