CAMP SCHWAB --
Camp Schwab has hosted an English Class for local residents every Wednesday night for the past 16 years, which is taught by Marines volunteering their personal time.
There are some students who attend the class as far away as Naha city and Urasoe city, and at least 50 students and more than 10 Marine volunteers attend each class.
It was Master Sgt. Anthony Camina, Ground Electronics Systems Maintenance Chief with 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, and his wife, Michelle's last night volunteering after teaching English every week for the last 3 years.
Camina is planning to retire from the Marine Corps in March 2019, after 26 years of service.
The couple not only contributed to the class every week as volunteers, but also actively participated in American seasonal and cultural exchange events such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Everyone in the English class showed gratitude for the couple's contribution, and presented them with a letter of appreciation, a bouquet and a cake.
Lastly, here is a message from Master Sgt. Camina;
Friends, students, volunteers and fellow teachers I want to thank you and the noble people of Okinawa publicly for the profound impact your example has made in the lives of my family and I. You gave me a home away from home that was a safe haven to raise and send off my own children into the world. As a parent this is the most amazing gift anyone could possibly receive. In August of 2003 I came to Okinawa for the first time with a weary and hesitant family. From first setting foot on this lovely island we found that the more we explored the more we fell in love with Okinawa’s rich culture, delicious food, and heartwarming people. As I have often said, our only regret the first time we left Okinawa was that we had made no Japanese friends.
When I was fortunate enough to return in 2013, Michelle and I were committed to immerse ourselves in the culture we felt was so generous to us the first time we were here. We felt that it would be wrong to enjoy the culture and beauty of Okinawa without giving something in return, so we looked for ways to do so. We wrote articles for Okinawa Hai to help educate westerners and promote businesses. We met many interesting store owners, artists, bakers, and chefs which was very rewarding. Our greatest and most challenging endeavor would be later when we were given the opportunity to teach English to children and adults. Neither of us were trained English Teachers so we always felt like fakes, but the students and volunteers were always supportive and helpful while we figured this English teaching experiment out.
Now I am at the end of my career and it seems my time on Okinawa is coming to an end. I returned hoping to come back from Japan with at least one friend. I find now that my expectations were dramatically exceeded as I have been unbelievably lucky enough to be embraced by an amazing and precious extended family of Japanese and Okinawan people I am so proud to know. I will eternally be thankful for the opportunity to be an ambassador of my country while living, learning and sharing in yours.