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Volunteers teach English, include fun at elementary school

Date Posted: 2004-07-16

KIN, OKINAWA, Japan — Nine sailors from 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group and a Marine from 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd FSSG taught English at Kagei Elementary School recently.

Marines and sailors, mainly from 3rd Medical Bn., have been volunteering at the school twice a month for the past three years.

“We have Marines and sailors who volunteer on a regular basis, and we get new ones (teachers) each time,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Rachel Tayamen, religious program specialist, 3rd Medical Bn., 3rd FSSG. “They know it’s important to make a good impression while we’re on Okinawa, and it’s also a good opportunity to learn more about the people and culture.”

The students always enjoy having the servicemembers come to the school. They like learning from and having the opportunity to play with the Americans, explained Tayamen.

“This gives the Okinawans an opportunity to learn the English language and to learn about our culture,” Tayamen said. “The school really enjoys having us come out and the children love having the chance to play with new people.”

The Okinawan children are not the only ones who enjoy the playtime they’re afforded at the school, explained Seaman Felipe O. Cameroamortegui, a lab technician also with 3rd Medical Bn., 3rd FSSG.

“The funnest thing I did was play ‘Duck Duck Goose’ with the little kids, even if I did happen to get caught,” said Pfc. Robert Radabaugh, electro-optical ordnance repairer, Ordnance Maintenance Company, 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group.

The servicemembers went to the school to teach the Okinawans, but they left having had an excellent learning experience themselves, explained Cameroamortegui.

“Teaching the Okinawan kids English helps keep me motivated and out of trouble,” Radabaugh said. “I try to be more responsible knowing I’m in a position to be a role model for these kids. If I were to get in trouble I wouldn’t be able to do this anymore.”

As well as teaching the Okinawan children English and the long-term goal of building a U.S. – Okinawa relationship, Marines and sailors learned other valuable lessons, said Tayamen.

“I really enjoy the cultural experience,” said Cameroamortegui. “The kids start to feel like your little brothers and sisters after awhile. I like being able to show them the good side of the American culture. I think it will help build strong bonds for the future.”

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