One thousand paper cranes on display at the U

Posted at 10:14 PM, Nov 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-01 00:14:27-05

SALT LAKE CITY - There are one thousand paper cranes on display at the University of Utah's campus as part of a new permanent exhibit.

For the past fifteen months, students, faculty, staff and people from around the world folded the paper cranes that are now on display at the Wilford W. and Dorothy P. Goodwill Humanitarian Building.

"People kept saying, 'Oh I want to learn how to make cranes,' or, 'This is so pretty, I wish I could do it,' I just thought wouldn't it be nice if social work had their own thousand cranes, and wouldn't it be nice if everybody could make the cranes and then sign them and it would be an investment in this project that I think can promote community, a sense of belonging in a community," said Irene Ota, diversity coordinator for the College of Social Work.

According to Japanese tradition, one thousand cranes are folded to honor a marriage, but after the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II, the paper cranes took on a new meaning.

"Since the bombing of Hiroshima, a thousand cranes can now also represent peace and health," Ota said.

"I had family in Hiroshima during the bombing and then shortly thereafter, and I've seen the effects of that with my family but I had no idea about the paper cranes. So folding the paper cranes was important to me because it related back to my family in Japan," said Jennifer Nozawa, a public relations specialist for the College of Social Work.

Many people had a hand in making the paper cranes. For some it came easy, but for others, it was a challenge.

"I have made paper cranes previously when I was a little girl. I'm Japanese-American so it was part of my heritage as well," Nozawa said.

"They were very difficult to make at first, but after the first 20 I started getting a little bit better at them," said Briane Tease, a student at the University of Utah. "You really have to put a lot of emphasis on folding the paper and having the edges match correctly and the folds have to be precise."

Earlier this year, students and faculty visiting from a women's university in Japan helped fold some of the paper cranes.