MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Thirty-two service members aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, participated in a community relation visit to Ekimae Hoikuen Pre-School hosted by the Marine Memorial Chapel in Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 28, 2014.
The visit gave service members an opportunity to interact with Japanese youth and strengthen the Japanese-American relationship.
“The purpose of today’s visit was to teach Japanese students English and improve the friendship between the Japanese locals and Americans,” said Noriko Yamada, administrative specialist with Marine Memorial Chapel.
All it takes is walking out the front door and visiting friends to make a difference, according to Yamada. Children with an unbelievable amount of energy run ecstatically through the gym screaming and laughing in two different languages. The students’ eyes were as big as the moon because their military friends came to play.
For the past 10 years, service members aboard station participate in visits to 11 different schools in the Iwakuni area.
“The schools are appreciative of the military visit,” said Yamada. “I hope the kids have memories of us, and when they get older cherish them for years to come.”
Yasue Miyoshi, a teacher at Ekimae Hoikuen Pre-School, described the event as impactful to the children. Miyoshi said she notices each school year, students’ enthusiasm to interact with service members.
“The kids were so excited about this visit because they wanted to play with the service members,” said Miyoshi. “School started in April, and with the first visit, the children were shy. Now they’re used to Americans and want to engage with them first.”
Lance Cpl. Clemente Jimenez, food service specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, described the event as a breath of fresh air and enjoyed volunteering his time.
“I got to go out to teach and play with the youth of Iwakuni and it was an amazing time,” said Jimenez. “Every single opportunity I get I will take to help teach the kids. They enjoy our company and we enjoy theirs because today they bring joy to my heart.”
The Marine Memorial Chapel provides multiple opportunities for service members aboard station to participant in their various events, which continue to build the foundation with their Japanese neighbors’ right outside the gate.