U.S. Marines and sailors based out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, participated in a Single Marine Program volunteer event where they helped landscape You En, a special needs home, and interacted with students from Toyama Junior High School in Hiroshima City, Sept. 15, 2017.
The event helped build relations between the service members and the Japanese community.
“We went and helped out at a special needs home and did some landscaping there to help put together a project for them,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Icelynn Holden, a motor transport mechanic with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “Then we went to a middle school and got to play with the kids. We were practicing English, playing soccer and folding origami with them.”
Holden said she really loves people, and she prefers making new friends through events more than anything because it is more memorable to socialize while helping out the community.
The landscaping at You En consisted of service members digging holes for a future garden and koi pond for the residents to enjoy walking through and watching it grow day-by-day.
“This was the first time we went (to the special needs home) so they were excited and very pleased with the outcome,” said Oana Ivanoff, the Marine Lounge manager. “They were amazed with how much our volunteer service members got done so fast. We’re trying to keep the relationship and hopefully go back in November to continue that project.”
While visiting the school, the service members were greeted by students and sat in a circle learning about each other while helping the students practice their English.
After the greetings, the students and service members participated in a soccer game before folding origami cranes in a classroom.
“Japanese people are extremely nice, so willing to do things with you and are very patient,” said Holden. “They are just entirely different people than Americans, so it’s great to learn about their culture and teach them things about you. It was a great bonding experience.”
Overall, their day of helping out the community was a success. In the end, the volunteers learned more about themselves and the community they share a part in.
“The whole Marine concept is that you need to be a warrior, strong and dedicated, but you also need to be a decent human being, so going out and doing stuff with the community brings out the humanity in Marines,” said Holden. “It encourages people and also reminds them that there are people out there that depend on them, and makes them really want to protect what they’ve earned.”