DVIDS – News – Almost 300 Yokosuka Elementary Students Complete Japanese Language Pilot School


YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 3, 2019) – Captain Jeffrey Kim, Yokosuka Fleet Activities Commander (CFAY), celebrated the 290 students who completed the Japanese-language after-school pilot program at Sullivans School on June 3.

The Japanese Language Pilot School at The Sullivans and nearby Ikego Primary School is a partnership between the Ministry of Defense Education (DoDEA) and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) that has been developed by Kim during his tenure as a Mansfield Fellow before assuming command of Base Yokosuka. The program was launched in September 2018, and it was taught after school three days a week by Japanese teachers and provided free Japanese language instruction to DoDEA students from Kindergarten to Grade 2.

“Nihongo no benkyo wa tanoshikatta desu ka [Did you all enjoy studying Japanese?]Kim asked, addressing the students in attendance in Japanese. “Benkyo wo tsuzukete wasurenai from kudasai [From here on, please continue to learn Japanese and remember what you learned here]. ”

With smiles from ear to ear, Sullivans students performed songs and dances to show off what they learned to their parents, teachers, classmates and MOFA members.

MOFA representatives in attendance included Director Kohei Akiyama of the department’s US Exchange Division who worked with DoDEA to implement the pilot program.

“I would like to present all students with the grade of A + for their great achievement here today,” Akiyama said addressing parents after the students’ performance. “People-to-people exchanges are the most important for the US-Japan alliance, so I hope your children continue to talk with the Japanese.”

Students in the program, like first-year student Nicholas Cornejo, see immediate benefits when learning Japanese.

“A few days ago I asked some friends to play soccer with me in Japanese,” said Nicholas. “I learned to say it in my class.

Parents said they were proud of their students’ performance and what they learned during the program.

“He was really excited about everything he learned,” said Katie Gahl, whose son Andrew is a first grader who took the Japanese after school program. “The best thing about life here is being able to expose our children to Japanese culture and now he has the confidence to say ‘hello’ to people when we are in town.”

Making the most of the opportunities offered to children when living in Japan was a sentiment shared by many parents of students in the program.

“I’m so glad we’re in Yokosuka for the pilot program,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brandi Orten, Judge Advocate for the Personnel of the Commander of the Japanese Naval Forces, whose daughter Anabelle took Japanese lessons. “Coming from a Japanese school in Sullivans, this [program] provided him with excellent exposure to deepen his learning of Japanese culture through language, art and song.

Japanese teachers who came to Yokosuka to teach American children also said that they enjoyed the program and were in awe of the American student’s performance.

“It has been so nice teaching all the kids this year,” said Baba-sensei, a Japanese teacher who travels from Tokyo three times a week to teach second-graders. “The students were very keen to study Japanese and they are so cute – sometimes they were smiling with missing teeth!”

“It was so surprising for me to see how well the children learned to write Japanese,” added Ogata-sensei, who also traveled from Tokyo to teach second grade, referring to Japanese logograms and syllabaries. “Hiragana and kanji are so difficult, but they didn’t mind it and they really enjoyed learning. “

The future of continuing to build relationships among students will continue into the next school year.

“Next school year, language school will continue three days a week after school,” said LaVerne Outen, community superintendent of DoDEA Pacific East District, which organized the Yokosuka program with MOFA. “On August 26, the start of the school year, information will be made available to students and parents for the program for the coming year.

“Yokosuka has the largest concentration of American children in Japan and it creates an incredible opportunity for our students to learn this incredible language and culture,” Kim said. “Everything revolves around the children because they are the future of this relationship and I hope they continue to learn and contribute to the US-Japan friendship and the US-Japan alliance.”

CFAY provides, maintains and operates basic facilities and services in support of forward deployed naval forces of the U.S. 7th Fleet, 71 tenant commands and more than 27,000 service members and civilians and their families.

Date taken: 06.03.2019
Date posted: 06.03.2019 22:07
Story ID: 325220
Site: I

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