Local residents, station youth build bonds during mikan presentation
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Matthew C. Perry Elementary School hosted members of the local Iwakuni agricultural and societal cooperative associations during a mikan presentation at the school gymnasium, Jan. 13, 2015 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
The purpose of the event was to strengthen the bond between Iwakuni City residents and the M.C. Perry students. Members of the associations presented M.C. Perry elementary with 20 boxes of mikans from Suo-Oshima Island.
Mikans, Japanese citrus fruit resembling tangerines, are seen as a significant symbol of Japan’s agricultural export business.
“When we talk about a cultural exchange between our communities such as this presentation, it’s not just an exchange from a (U.S.) military organization and the local community,” said Takumi Shiiki, the mayor of Suo-Oshima. “It’s an opportunity to meet one another, get to know each other and learn from one another.”
Shiiki said events that involve both station and local youth are a great way to build lasting bonds between the U.S. and Japan, as both parties gain fond memories that eventually mature into long-lasting friendships.
All of the elementary school students and staff attended the mikan presentation to express their appreciation for the gifts.
“This is the fifth year now that we have hosted the presentation of mikans in the gym,” said April Lombard, a first grade teacher with M.C. Perry Elementary School. “It’s a great gesture of friendship and I know each year it’s more meaningful to my students because they love mikans and they look forward to the presentation.”
As part of the presentation, the students of the elementary school gave their honored guests gifts to show gratitude for their gesture.
“When these children grow up and go back overseas, and they happen to have an orange,” said Motoi Yoshimura, Director General and Chairman from Yamaguchi-Oshima Agricultural Cooperative Association. “When that splash of juice hits their mouth, in that moment I hope that it will remind them of the experience they had here today, the kind of fond memory of Iwakuni that I would like to offer through this opportunity.”
According to Lt. Col. Mike Carreiro, executive officer of MCAS Iwakuni, events like the mikan presentation are vital to improving and building relationships with the local community.
“I couldn’t agree more with Mayor Shiiki,” said Carreiro. “When these students return to Japan as young men, young women or adults, they will have a better understanding of the culture and they will be better ambassadors for the U.S.”
Carreiro added that he looks forward to seeing the members of the Iwakuni agricultural and societal cooperative associations continue to interact with M.C. Perry elementary and they build upon those bonds that both hold dearly.