Service members bond with Japanese students
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Service members aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, taught children English at Josho Hoikuen School in Iwakuni City as part of a community relations event hosted by the Marine Memorial Chapel, August 11, 2015.
Marine Memorial Chapel offers an abundance of opportunities for service members and station residents to participate in community relations events. These events give volunteers the chance to be a positive role model for our Japanese neighbors and become a part of the community.
Eiko Isomoto, the lead instructor at Josho Hoikuen School, said she hopes the relationships the children make with the service members helps enhance relationships with Americans in the future.
"The children get excited when the service members visit,” said Isomoto. “Having interactions between the service members and the children also promotes the parents’ understanding of the culture on the air station.”
Now, there is little hesitation as the students invite the service members into the classroom. The children’s excitement could be seen throughout the classroom as the volunteers helped them sing the English alphabet, various American sing-along songs and a new favorite game: duck, duck, goose.
Isomoto said the children are happy to learn English. English is now a mandatory class in Japanese elementary schools, so the children feel grown up when the service members help them learn the language.
Pfc. Makayla Whitney, a postal clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, had the desire to experience the culture and become familiar with the local community.
“I don’t really know the culture, but the interaction we had with the children was great,” said Whitney. “By visiting the schools, we get to see a lot of their culture and vice versa.”
The positive reaction from the students motivated Whitney to continue to volunteer and learn the ins and outs of the culture.
There are numerous opportunities for station residents to participate in events with their Japanese neighbors. For more information on volunteering, contact the station’s chapel at 253-3371.