Cranes are large birds with long legs and necks. In Japan and other East Asian cultures, they represent luck and long life. Japanese tradition says a person who folds one thousand paper cranes gets the right to make a wish. Some schoolchildren in the United States have been folding cranes. They want to show they care about the victims of the March eleventh earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Almost forty Japanese-American students attend Somerville Elementary School in Ridgewood, New Jersey. But all five hundred twenty-five students at the school have heard about the disasters. So they have decorated their school with paper origami cranes. Their wish is for a speedy recovery for the Japanese people.Art teacher Samantha Stankiewicz says the activity gave students a way to express empathy for victims.She says, “For children, the folding of the cranes has been a really positive way for them to feel like they’re actively engaged.”One boy said, “The crane is a symbol of hope, so we try to have a lot of hope for those people in Japan.” And a girl at the school said, “It makes me feel really happy that everyone’s caring for another country.” And that care was not just in the form of paper cranes. The school principal, Lorna Oates-Santos, says children at Somerville Elementary raised about two thousand dollars for disaster relief agencies. The two agencies they chose were the American Red Cross and Save the Children.The school also has a television club that produces weekly programs on different subjects. Fourth-grade teacher Gabrielle King is the director of the club, and says the students were involved in the school’s efforts. “When the earthquake happened,” she says, “the children wanted to know what they could do to inform other students and raise awareness for the people in Japan.” So they decided to do a show on the earthquake and to also make the origami cranes.Some American children have shown their feelings for the victims in Japan in other ways. Yasuhisa Kawamura is Japan’s deputy consul general in New York.He says one young girl brought a painting she had made to the consulate. The painting showed the two countries, Japan and the United States, shaking hands over the ocean, and saying “We are with you.” Mr. Kawamura said consulate staff members were “very moved and touched by this young girl’s expression.”The East Asia Program at Cornell University in the United States has a lesson plan and directions for folding origami cranes. You can find a link at voaspecialenglish.com. For VOA Special English, I’m Alex Villarreal.