Stars and Stripes
Okinawa, Chatan | May 14, 2019
Students from Camp Lester Middle School and Chatan Junior High School come together for the first time for a cultural exchange March 21 at the Chatan Castle ruins on Camp Foster.
Students were able to visit the the Chatan Castle before it is returned to the government of Japan from the United States. During the cultural exchange the students were able to practice speaking English and Japanese while they visited the sacred castle.
“Not many people have been here before, so it's rare for us to get to visit,” said Cameron Clem, a student from Lester Middle School.
The Camp Lester Middle School Japanese language class was invited just days prior to the trip and ultimately became a huge learning opportunity for all the students from both schools.
“This trip allows the students to be exposed to how a native Japanese speaker talks, because right now they are only in the classroom learning Japanese,” said Courtney Griggs, the Japanese language teacher at Lester Middle School. “This is their opportunity outside of the school to use the language they’ve learned, so its a huge benefit for my students.”
While walking along the historical trails, only smiling faces and laughter were in sight as friendships began forming.
“We like to talk with the Americans,” said Miyu Touyama. “It's exciting, and it's easier to talk to them because they are young and we are helping them.”
The classes continued to learn the significance of the castle and surrounding jungle to be historic and treasured while hiking rocks and dodging tree branches together.
“It’s beneficial to the students to see come together so they can see the culture and practice speaking Japanese,” said Hiroko Tomimura, the teacher at Chatan Junior High School. “I like that we could bring the classes together.”