MISAWA, Japan -- Sailors stationed at Misawa Air Base, Japan visited the Ohzora Jido-Kan, a Japanese afterschool care center, where they taught and practiced English with the children there Monday, Feb. 29.
The trip was organized by Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa’s Chaplain Lt. James Hicks and is scheduled to be a bi-weekly opportunity.
“As I'm visiting different units in Misawa, I'm always listening for the felt needs of our sailors,” said Hicks. “The Ohzora Jido-Kan COMREL to teach English to local Japanese children was simply the solution to our sailors' desire to not only get out in the local community and do good works, but also to build on-going relationships.”
The children were separated into groups by grade level where they practiced English and interacted with Sailors. A few of the teaching methods included reading childrens’ books, counting exercises, and flash cards. “Time is a gift. We can let it slip away, be taken away, or we can give it away,” said Hicks. “In our rapidly changing world, I can think of nothing more precious than gifting little children with our time, sitting down on the floor with them, reading, talking, and laughing.” According to Miyuki Suzuki, NAF Misawa’s Community Relations Coordinator, the children were extremely excited and receptive of the Sailors and the children were saying “See you next time!” as the Sailors left the center. “I thought this was a really good experience to teach English and interact with the local community here in Misawa," said Legalman 1st Class Donald McDowell, assigned to NAF Misawa, from Williston, N.D. "Also, not just interacting, but leaving a lasting impact with the kids.” The U.S. Navy and Japan have had a long-standing relationship and opportunities to strengthen that relationship by reaching out to the community are very valuable. “This is more than investing in the individual lives of little children,” said Hicks. “This is a good-will effort to lay the foundation for future partnerships and reinforce the exceedingly positive relationship that already exists between the Navy and JASDF in northern Japan.”