Combat Assault Battalion strengthens ties with nursery school

Base Info
Students pile on Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Keba as he demonstrates how to low-crawl during a break in English lessons at Asunaro Nursery School March 7 in Nago. Keba is a data network specialist with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Photo by Cpl. Mark W. Stroud
Students pile on Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Keba as he demonstrates how to low-crawl during a break in English lessons at Asunaro Nursery School March 7 in Nago. Keba is a data network specialist with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Photo by Cpl. Mark W. Stroud

Combat Assault Battalion strengthens ties with nursery school

by: Cpl. Mark W. Stroud | .
Okinawa Marine Staff | .
published: March 16, 2013

The students of Asunaro Nursery School got in formation, only instead of falling in by platoon, the children separated themselves into age groups. They then sang a perfect rendition of a Japanese song at a volume that would have made any drill instructor proud. With it, they greeted their American visitors.

Combat Assault Battalion Marines, sailors and family members taught English to students March 7 at Asunaro Nursery School in Nago, as part of an ongoing relationship between the school and the battalion.

The visit was the third since February and a continuation of the relationship between Camp Schwab Marines and the Asunaro Nursery School that dates back to 1998.

“Back in the late 1990s, there was a group of Marines from Camp Schwab with CAB’s Ammo Company who would visit the school on a bimonthly, sometimes weekly basis, doing some of the same things we are doing now,” said Navy Lt. Steven K. Mayfield, the chaplain for CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Due to operational commitments in the early 2000s, the Marines weren’t able to visit as often, but now we are able to continue strengthening the relationship.”

The Marines, sailors and family members taught students basic English phrases and words along with pronunciation during the visit.

“We were teaching them basic shapes, body parts, fruits and greetings in English,” said Mayfield. “It allowed a native English speaker to talk to them and have them repeat the words clearly.”

Popular children’s games such as duck-duckgoose, musical chairs and scavenger hunts were adapted to test the students’ knowledge of English and expand on the language lessons.

“They grasped English very fast. I was surprised by how quickly they learned,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Keba, a data network specialist with CAB. “The games really helped reinforce the lessons.”

The games also provided an opportunity for the children to have fun with the Marines.

“I enjoyed the fruit-basket game the most,” said Ibuki, a 5-year-old student at the school, referring to a modified game of musical chairs where students found seats based on English announcements identifying the students as which fruits they were assigned. “I definitely want the Americans to come back. It was very fun.”

The visit helped the CAB Marines, sailors and family members integrate into the community and build personal relationships with their neighbors in Nago.

“The visit will allow the kids to see the Marines as individuals who they are able to have fun with,” said Mayfield. “On the Marine side, it gives them a deeper appreciation for the community we live and work in.

“I think it is just incredible the positive response we have had from the teachers and the students every time we have gone out, as well as the response we’ve had from the Marines and the families who have been able to spend time with the students,” added Mayfield.

Building a relationship with the students was particularly rewarding for one Marine.

“It provided a sense of being able to go out and do something good, something meaningful for the community,” said Keba. “I just enjoyed hanging out with some of the community members and being able to interact. It is nice to be able to make a positive impression.”