Ambassador Kennedy visits Marines during weekly outreach event with Henoko, Okinawa community
Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visited Marines stationed aboard Camp Schwab June 22, during a community outreach event where service members taught English to local school children.
For the past 14 years, Marines aboard Camp Schwab have been teaching children and young adults basic grammar and commonly used words for communication. According to Lance Cpl. Joshua King, a motor vehicle operator with 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, although they came to the class to teach, they couldn’t help but learn a little themselves.
“I volunteer all the time and I love people, even though we are the ones doing most of the teaching I learn something new every week,” said King, a Madison, Wisconsin native. “It’s events like these that really make me appreciate the local culture and gives me an opportunity to really connect with people and let them see that we are very friendly.”
The English class is just one of over 500 community relations programs that Marines all over Okinawa participate in every year. From Camp Gonsalves in the North, to Camp Kinser in the South, Marines stationed in Okinawa are deeply invested in the surrounding communities that they call home.
“I came to one of these classes ten years ago and I’ve came back as much as possible ever since,” said Ayumi Oshiro, an Okinawa resident. “I love these classes because it allows me to perfect my English while also getting to interact with the Marines.”
The class lasted a little over an hour and included lots of smiles, laughs and learning. However most of what will be remembered about today’s event probably won’t be repeated in English. Today, like every other day where service members are able to get involved with the community, they not only learn from and teach their Okinawan neighbors, but they continue to build on a bond 71 years in the making.
“Events like these let the local residents see that we aren’t just Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Keven Romero, a warehouse clerk with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force and an Orange County, New York native. “We are normal people just like they are. We come here and mix our cultures together, which strengthens not only our nations’ friendships but also our own personal relationships. I have made so many friends here that appreciate the effort I put into the class, and that’s why I come back every week.”