Okinawa Marine awarded for English teaching
NAGO CITY, OKINAWA, Japan -- Corporal Jacob W. Helms was recognized and awarded March 26 at the Nago Civic Center for his contributions to the “Let’s Play with English” program.
Helms’ hard work and dedication to the program was recognized by Noriko Zamami, the Nago City education superintendent, who awarded Helms with a certificate of appreciation.
“The program was a great success,” said Zamami. “With the help of Mr. Iha, as well as Cpl. Helms and the other Marines who volunteered, it was quite enjoyable for the students and a great learning experience.”
The program is designed to give Marines the opportunity to teach English to local kindergarten students and continue building a strong relationship between the Marine Corps and the Nago community.
Marines have volunteered in the annual program for the past 10 years.
“The program starts in June and continues through February,” said Fumio Iha, the community relations specialist for Camp Schwab. “(Volunteers) visit 12 schools during the program to interact with students.
“Cpl. Helms participated in several of the classes throughout December and played a big part in many of the events, including our Christmas play, when he dressed up as Santa for the children.”
The students are taught a new topic of the English language by the volunteers each month to help them with their goal of learning basic English.
“The program was very enjoyable to participate in,” said Cpl. Jacob W. Helms, an antitank missileman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program. “We helped teach the students colors, numbers, basic greetings and American holidays. It wasn’t only a great learning experience for the students, but for the Marines as well. It helped teach us the common customs and courtesies, as well as the culture of our host nation, which will help us interact with our neighbors here.”
With knowledge gained and a new relationship between the Marines and students made, the bond between the Nago community and Marines was strengthened, according to Iha.
“We conceive that this program is another investment to the future leadership of Okinawa,” said Iha. “In the future, when these children grow up and become the new leadership of this country, they can make the mutual alliance between the United States and Japan stronger.”