Students, Marines compete in amazing race challenge
Excitement was in the air as students with Urasoe University and Marines with various units on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma raced toward checkpoints during an amazing race challenge June 2 in southern Okinawa.
The race was hosted by the single Marine program and consisted of challenges and checkpoints intended to not only teach the 40 students and Marines who participated about the surrounding community, but also build a positive relationship between the two groups.
The day began with the students and Marines forming into 10 teams of four people consisting of two students and two Marines. Language barriers were overcome as the teams discussed how they would face the challenges throughout the day.
“This event allowed the students participating to see the Marines in a different light than they are used to,” said Gunnery Sgt. Terry P. Harden, an event volunteer and aviation operations chief with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “Through teamwork, participants can accomplish unfamiliar tasks while having fun.”
The race began with the teams locating checkpoints at Shuri Castle before traveling to five other locations on the southern part of the island.
For the students and Marines, finding the locations was not the most challenging part of the day, according to Staff Sgt. John P. McCrandall, an event volunteer and fire chief with H&HS, MCAS Futenma, MCIPAC. Instead, it was deciphering the clues written in both Nihongo and English.
“We wanted to pick locations that were well known by both the students and Marines but make the clues a challenge to figure out,” said McCrandall. “Communication was just one of the obstacles that had to be overcome today. It allowed the Marines to learn some of the Japanese language and for the students to practice their English-speaking skills.”
The teams raced between checkpoints facing challenges that included learning traditional Japanese dance, finding various objects in a local mall, and tasting a Japanese dish of fermented soybeans known as natto.
“The natto challenge was my favorite because it was different and gave me a chance to experience the local culture through its food,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon W. Felten, an aircraft intermediate level structures mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Overall, this was a great experience, especially for the Marines who participated.”
Although some parts of the race seemed difficult, the experience afforded the students an opportunity to interact with Marines in a relaxed setting.
“It was a pleasure to participate in this event with the Marines,” said Yui Kobayashi, a first-year student at Urasoe University. “I was happy to show the Marines around and to practice my English.”
The challenge provided the students and Marines with an excellent learning opportunity and opened doors for future events, according to Harden.
“I have never seen anything like this done here on Okinawa,” said Harden. “I think that it would be great to do an event such as this in the future.”
In the end, it was team six of the amazing race that earned bragging rights and showed that through adapting to the situation, any obstacle can be overcome.