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Japanese students visit Taylor Anderson’s high school, family

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Nearly a year and half since the death of Taylor Anderson, seven of her students from Japan are visiting the United States for the first time.

The Midlothian native was teaching in Japan when she was killed during the devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011. 

On Thursday night, Anderson's students gathered with her family and friends at St. Catherine’s School in the West End, Anderson’s alma mater.

“She fell in love with the country because of the people and the culture,” said Jeanne Anderson, Taylor’s mother.  “It was her dream to go over there and live and teach.”

Anderson’s family partnered with St. Catherine’s and the YMCA, both in Virginia and Tokyo, Japan, to pay for the students’ trip to the states. 

A few of the students are still living in shelters while their hometown is being rebuilt.  Anderson’s father, Andy, said they wanted to give them a chance to escape and be kids, while experiencing something new.

“What we can do is help the students have more of a normal life and have lots of opportunities,” said Andy Anderson.

Taylor Anderson was last seen trying to calm her students as the earthquake hit.  To honor her  legacy, those who knew her best now ensure the connection she made overseas is not lost.

“She had her eyes wide open all her life, and she was always exploring,” said Andy Anderson.  “What we’re hoping is these kids are getting the same opportunity.”

On Friday morning, the Japanese students will participate in “Y Olympics,” competing against students from Camp Thunderbird Outdoor Center in Chesterfield.  The event will be from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.