Citizens, Marines clean shoreline during festival
URASOE, OKINAWA, Japan -- Service members on leave or liberty can choose to engage in recreational activities, professional military education or just relax. But on one hot, sunny day, Marines used their time to volunteer at an event that gave back to the environment and community.
Approximately 450 community members and 40 Camp Kinser-based Marines came together July 15 for the Aqua Social Fes 2013, also known as “Vitamin Sea,” to clean up the shore of Inanse Beach in Urasoe City.
“The citizens of Okinawa welcome the collaboration these events promote,” said Tetsuji Matsumoto, the Urasoe City mayor. “It is very important that we continue to work together to keep building and fortifying our relationship.”
The Marines provided a service for not only the environment but the community members as well.
“With our guests present, our junior high school students, who are learning English, seized this opportunity to practice their foreign language with the service members, (while cleaning the beach),” said Matsumoto.
The event proved that much can be accomplished when everyone unites to keep Earth clean.
“Community engagements such as volunteering at a nursing home or participating in a beach cleanup not only help the local community, but also provides us the opportunity to visit different sites on the island and interact with the community,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Nickson, a finance technician with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Before the beach cleanup started, service members experienced a number of Japanese cultural traditions during a street performance.
“It was awesome being able to watch a traditional taiko performance and a shishi Mai, or lion dance, that the children performed for the event,” said Nickson. “I will be going out and experiencing more of Okinawa.”
This event will open up follow-on opportunities with the community, according to Cpl. Andy Cazeau, an electrician with Facilities Engineer Division, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
“By working together as one, we can maintain a beautiful Mother Nature, not only for us but for generations to come,” said Cazeau. “From Camp Kinser all the way to Camp Gonsalves, Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen need to work closer together, so we can work with our host nation as a more effective team.”
The local children were also very appreciative that the service members were giving back to the environment.
“Okinawa is our home, and the service members worked with us to keep our home beautiful,” said Higa Makino, an Urasoe City community member. “Thank you for caring about our home.”
Events like this are even more enjoyable when service members and community members work side-by-side while learning more about each other, according to Makino.
The cleanup paints a perfect portrait that through events like these the local communities and the service members can come together to build and keep strengthening their relationship.
“This was a successful event where we could all bond together no matter the age or gender,” said Matsumoto. “I know that the city of Urasoe would enjoy having the Marines and sailors of Camp Kinser continue to show their support in these types of events.”