Camp Courtney offers English lessons to local single moms
MCIPAC Public Affairs Office | .
published: July 20, 2016
CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan -- English class was held on Monday evenings and there were some voices of toddlers heard from the class room.
This English class is for Japanese single mothers who live in Uruma city and they are learning English communication skills diligently while some toddlers are walking around the room but not disturbing the lessons.
These peaceful scenes were seen in the English class at Single Marine Program building on Camp Courtney, which started last month.
One of the students was a young single mother who grew up at an orphanage.
Chikako, 27, attends the class and brings her 5 year old son and 18 month old daughter to the class room every week.
Chikako says with smiles that she was adopted by an orphanage when she was a new born but she felt she was more secure than other kids because she had a five year older sister there at the institution while she was growing up.
When she graduated from high school at the age of 18, she was told that she had to move out from the institution to start her own life.
She was surrounded by other kids as she was growing up, she felt she was totally left alone and felt very lonesome when she moved out to her own apartment.
She recalls those days by saying “There was nobody to support me financially, no furniture, no electric devices, just an empty room and myself. I had nothing!”
She continues by saying “My high school teacher asked other school teachers for unused furniture in their homes and that’s how I’ve got started my new life alone at the apartment”.
As she started a new life alone, she had a scholarship to attend the vocational school for medical field and started to work at medical office when she graduated from the school.
As she started to work at the medical office then she realized that it wasn’t the field she wanted to pursuit her career in. So she quit the job and has been working in many different jobs thereafter.
She dreamed about a warm and loving family of her own and married to a man when she was 20 years of age. They have 2 children but decided to get divorced last year.
She has been living in a small apartment with her two children when she heard about the English class offered to single mothers for free at Camp Courtney.
She has vivid memories of playing with Americans who visited the institution when she was growing up and those were the sweet memories to her.
She said “U.S. service members came by to an institution and brought us delicious sweets and drinks. Occasionally, they even took us to the bowling allies on the base to play bowling and we had a blast”. She continues “U.S. service members gave me some donations when I left the orphanage to start my own life. It was a great help”.
She said she grew up receiving lots of kindness from U.S. service members and now she has a chance to study English so she may be able to give back to needy children, and join the volunteer activities to share her gratitude to Americans who supported her through her earlier life.
Chikako said “I work 40 hours a week and receive some allowance for childcare from the city so we are not rich but doing ok for now. My children’s smiles give me lots of energy and make my days”.
She talked about her future by saying “I am very busy with my work and children but I want to study English, even if it’s just in a few minutes a day, between breaks or whenever I have a chance. I just want to change my life by trying, even little by little”.
After the class, Chikako put her children into her car and with smiles she said “See you next week” and then she drove off to her home.