Kadena’s Fairchild Burger King supports Ryukyu Students

Courtesy photo by Ryukyu Middle School
Courtesy photo by Ryukyu Middle School

Kadena’s Fairchild Burger King supports Ryukyu Students

by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman
Army & Air Force Exchange Service Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE — Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, teachers from Ryukyu Middle School in Okinawa had to think outside the box to help students who study Japanese language and Japanese culture, a way to implement their new knowledge.

On Nov. 23 and 24, nearly 180 Ryukyu Middle-School students took the opportunity to go to Fairchild’s Burger King and practice placing their meal order in Japanese. 

“It is important for our students to use what they have learned in the classroom and apply their knowledge in a real-world situation,” Japanese language teacher Yumi Hasegawa Freeman said. “The ability to communicate in Japanese will build their confidence and add positive memories of living here.”

Heidi Shimoji and Freeman reached out to Kadena Fairchild’s Burger King Manager Keita Matsukawa to see if he and his Japanese staff-members were willing to help. The teachers also requested the staff to use certain phrases in Japanese so their students could communicate with them easier.

Matsukawa quickly agreed.

“It is important that we help students in any way we can so they can learn about Japanese culture and language,” Matsukawa said. “Learning about Japanese culture will help build the bridge between American and Japanese people.”  

The planning for event was essential because time was not on their side. The two teachers divided their students into five groups, the largest with 45 students and the smallest with 24 students. Their goal was to have every student order their meal in Japanese, eat and get back to school before the start of their next class.

“The teachers who coordinated this experience was very helpful and we were able to execute without any problems.” Matsukawa said. “It was a pleasure having the students at the Fairchild food court and they are welcome back anytime.”

The success of the field trip was productive for the students and the Burger King staff.

“The children seemed nervous at first, however, the nerves seemed to turn into excitement as they continued to interact with the staff,” Burger King Manager Junya Nago said. “I feel proud that I was able to help them learn Japanese and I hope that I was able to make a small difference when they interact with the local community.”

Shimoji and Freeman later thanked Matsukawa and the Burger King staff for the memorable experience they gave their students.

“We know supporting a large number of students in a short period of time was not an easy task; we appreciate the staff at Burger King for accommodating our request with flexibility and enthusiasm,” Freeman said. “We are looking forward to continuing our partnership in following years.”

Photo Caption:
On Nov. 23 and 24, Ryukyu Middle-School students order their meal in Japanese as a practical exercise at Kadena Fairchild’s Burger King. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Ryukyu Middle School teachers, Yumi Hasegawa Freeman, Japanese language and Heidi Shimoji, Japanese culture, had to think outside the box to help students find a way to implement their new knowledge and with the help from Kadena Fairchild’s Burger King Manager Keita Matsukawa and his staff, nearly 180 students ordered their lunch, ate and got back to school in time for their next class.

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