Urasoe, Kinser strengthen relations through English classes
CAMP KINSER, Japan -- Camp Kinser community relations volunteers reached out to neighbors in the surrounding community by teaching English classes April 3 at Urasoe City Hall, in addition to opening its gates to new Urasoe City Hall employees April 4.
The events allowed Urasoe City citizens and service members and staff assigned to Kinser to improve their relationship through interactive learning and seeing firsthand how Marines work and function while in garrison.
“The (community members) want to see how things work on base because it directly affects them,” said Ichino Kuba, the community relations specialist for Camp Kinser. “Because of these events, the employees can adopt a supportive mindset, which leads to benefiting both community relations as well as city administrations.”
For Marines stationed throughout Okinawa, it is very important to be involved and active with their hosts and neighbors in the surrounding community, according to Capt. Todd P. Wangenheim, the camp services officer for Camp Kinser.
The first day of the class began with teaching city hall employees basic English conversational skills, allowing teachers to gauge their language skills.
“I enjoyed this (the) most because it took place where we work in an environment we are comfortable in,” said Kanae Nakamura, an international relations liaison for Urasoe City Hall. “I have always been interested in learning English.”
In addition to the English classes, members of Camp Kinser invited the employees to tour the base.
“The tour was part of their orientation,” said Kuba. “It allowed the employees to gain familiarization of Camp Kinser while also giving them a view of how it affects their community. When the employees return to their respective working sections, they will keep Camp Kinser in mind, and it will add to the good working relationship that we already have.”
During the tour, the employees visited locations such as the helicopter landing pad and the Battle of Okinawa Historical Society display.
“I have lived in Urasoe City for a long time but have never received the opportunity to visit Camp Kinser,” said Tomoki Matsukawa, a psychologist with Urasoe City Hall. “I have really enjoyed this visit because a tour such as this brings us closer together as a community. We are, after all, neighbors and should be close.”
The English class, which will be held every other week at Urasoe City Hall, will provide opportunities to continue building positive relationships between community residents and service members and employees at Camp Kinser, according to Kuba.
“These events affect us both now in the present and will have an impact on our relationship in the future,” said Kuba. “We need to have a professional working relationship in order to have good community relations.”