: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Community
Browse Community Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Reliving the old days in a new culture

Date Posted: 2004-08-12

OKINAWA CITY, OKINAWA, Japan — About a dozen Marines and sailors from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and some of their families, volunteered to spend time with the Okinawan children at the Jidou Community Center here July 24.

The Saturday visit was part of an ongoing project where service members visit the center three times a month, according to Lt. Col. Terry W. Reid, commanding officer, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-36, Marine Aircraft Group-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

“This three-year (community relations) project was initially set up for the special-needs kids by the chaplains,” Reid said. “The program has now evolved into visits to both the community center and the special-needs kids.”

Upon arrival to the center’s gymnasium, the American visitors were greeted by a multicolored wave of dodge balls.

“The children love playing dodgeball with the Marines,” said Kaori Makishi, assistant manager of the Jidou Community Center. “The Marines are the only ones with enough energy to keep up with the kids, especially in dodge ball and basketball.”

After spending an intense half hour fleeing from the children to avoid being repeatedly pelted by dodge balls, the service members bolted out of the gym doors for some tame fun.

“The kids love to play games, especially American games like Candyland and Jenga,” said Cpl. Aaron Robinson, administrative clerk, MALS-36. “I like to teach the older kids new games like Twister and Spades.”“

It’s a lot of fun to play with the kids, and my kids really enjoy it,” said Melinda McElroy, a Marine spouse. “One of the original reasons we started coming was to help our kids grow up in another culture. My 6-year-old daughter has made several friends at the center. She looks forward to playing with them all month.”

According to Reid, the community center management wants to see the service members and their family members more often.

“Starting next month, we will be coming here three times a month; two Saturdays and one Friday,” said Sgt. John McElroy, the group’s noncommissioned officer in charge and a hydraulic mechanic with MALS-36. “Some of the kids can’t come in on weekends, and the management would really like it if they could meet us.”

In addition to the extra visits, the management also requested a basic English conversation class for the children to help get past the language barrier.

“The main goal of the visits is to make the kids comfortable with foreigners,” said Etsuko Azuma, manager of the Jidou Community Center. “In the beginning they avoided the Marines because of their size, but, over time, we have accomplished our goal. The kids now love the Americans.”

Browse Community Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleOkistyleJU Facebook

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker