Marines bond with preschoolers
IWAKUNI YAMAGUCHI PREFECTURE, Japan -- Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, volunteered to play with preschoolers at Kawashimo Preschool in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Sept. 29, 2015.
Preschoolers welcomed the volunteers with a dance performance. The children took turns in the center of the playground to show the volunteers their dances.
“Doing this is a lot of fun, I think, for both the Marines and the preschoolers,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class James Little, a logistics specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “Whenever we go out to the community and spend time with the kids, we help build a positive image for ourselves.”
After dancing, the children prepared a game using red and white balls scattered across the playground. Each team had to grab their team’s ball color and place it in the same color box strapped to the back of the guests as they ran across the playground.
Some of the volunteers hoped that their contribution would leave a lasting memory with the preschoolers.
“I hope this leaves a good impression on the kids,” said Cpl. Tiffany Ackerman, an air freight clerk with H&HS. “That way, as they grow and stories come up, they don’t think of Americans as mean or rude and remember the good times we had with them.”
Next the children and volunteers split into three teams for a relay race. After passing the baton, it was the next persons’ turn to complete a lap around the playground as quickly as they could.
Most of the teachers agreed that having the service members come and visit the children is a good experience for both parties.
Saori Tamai, a teacher at Kawashimo Preschool, said that at this age visits like these are ideal because they peak the students interest and allow them to learn about different cultures and people.
At the end of the visit, the preschoolers had one more performance in store for the new friends. Each child received a wooden clapping instrument to use for their final performance for the service members.
Little said the preschool reaches out to him monthly, asking for more volunteers to participate in these visits. He added that the expressions on the children’s faces when the service members arrive are priceless and they can’t wait for them to return next month.