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III MEF Band, university students learn languages

By Lance Cpl. John Gargano | | June 28, 2013

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - “Konichiwa!” said the student instructor to the Marines. The Marines responded excitedly with a boisterous “Konichiwa!” of their own.

Seated in small groups, the Marines looked at their student instructor with a mixture of awe and excitement as they engaged in a language they had yet to master.

Marines with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band and students with the University of the Ryukyus Wind Orchestra Band Club gathered at the III MEF Band Hall on Camp Foster June 18 to enhance their language skills in English and Japanese.

The Marines and students came together to not only learn one another’s language, but also to enhance and strengthen the bond between the two groups of musicians.

“It’s great to learn Japanese because it helps us get more involved with the community and establishes a strong relationship with the students,” said Lance Cpl. Jean C. Salas, a clarinetist with the III MEF Band. “As ambassadors of the U.S., this is a great way to better understand the Japanese culture.”

The Marines studied Japanese with the assistance of some of the students, while other students practiced English with several Marines.

“This is such a good opportunity for me because I want to be a teacher, and being able to learn English will help me greatly,” said Nozomi Taguchi, a student at the university. “It helps us to foster better relationships with each other through understanding a foreign language and will also help us with our careers after graduation.”

The Marines and students established a strong professional relationship through the recent joint concert they performed, according to Sgt. Ryan W. Wiley, a trumpeter with the III MEF Band.

“A lot of us have been hanging out with the university students, and we wanted to get together and have an informal language trade-off session, where we could help each other out,” said Wiley. “It’s great to learn language skills from a native speaker.”

The students and Marines plan to get together again soon to brush up on the knowledge and skills they learned.

“In the end, it really is about mutual respect for culture,” said Wiley. “Both the Marines and the university students took time to learn about one another, which is a fantastic way to build understanding and respect.”
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