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Marine Corps Installations Pacific

Marines welcome Oshima children

By Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle | Marine Corps Installations Pacific | January 13, 2013

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Robert D. Eldridge welcomes students from Oshima Island, Kesennuma City, Miyagi prefecture, to Okinawa Jan. 11 to kick off the youth cultural exchange and homestay program. The program was created following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011, and was originally designed to allow the children of Oshima to enjoy their summer holiday in a stress-free environment. Eldridge is the deputy assistant chief of staff, G-7, government and external affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

Robert D. Eldridge welcomes students from Oshima Island, Kesennuma City, Miyagi prefecture, to Okinawa Jan. 11 to kick off the youth cultural exchange and homestay program. The program was created following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011, and was originally designed to allow the children of Oshima to enjoy their summer holiday in a stress-free environment. Eldridge is the deputy assistant chief of staff, G-7, government and external affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle)


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Columbus Wilson III serves a ping pong ball to Yujiro Murakami Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Murakami, along with 23 other students from Oshima Island’s elementary and middle schools, are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. “We were invited by the Marine Corps to come to Okinawa the year after the disaster,” said Hironobu Sugawara. “Last time, we had 25 children visit, and we want to keep the ties between us and the Marines strong.”  Murakami is an 11-year-old fifth-grade student from Oshima, and Wilson is a program assistant at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Sugawara is the homestay program manager and Oshima City Assembly member. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released)

Columbus Wilson III serves a ping pong ball to Yujiro Murakami Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Murakami, along with 23 other students from Oshima Island’s elementary and middle schools, are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. “We were invited by the Marine Corps to come to Okinawa the year after the disaster,” said Hironobu Sugawara. “Last time, we had 25 children visit, and we want to keep the ties between us and the Marines strong.” Murakami is an 11-year-old fifth-grade student from Oshima, and Wilson is a program assistant at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Sugawara is the homestay program manager and Oshima City Assembly member. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released) (Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle)


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Students from Oshima elementary and middle schools play basketball Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Twenty-four students from Oshima are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. This is the second year of the program, which will provide both the Japanese and American children time to have fun together and learn from each other. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released)

Students from Oshima elementary and middle schools play basketball Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Twenty-four students from Oshima are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. This is the second year of the program, which will provide both the Japanese and American children time to have fun together and learn from each other. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released) (Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle)


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Yoshihito Sakurada watches and smiles while Columbus Wilson III scores a basket Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Sakurada along with 23 other students from Oshima elementary and middle schools are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. Throughout the children’s stay, they will participate in various events such as arts and crafts, playing games, a Sunday brunch, and visiting an American school before leaving on Jan. 14. Sakurada is an 11-year-old fifth-grade student from Oshima, and Wilson is a program assistant at the Camp Foster Youth Center. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released)

Yoshihito Sakurada watches and smiles while Columbus Wilson III scores a basket Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Sakurada along with 23 other students from Oshima elementary and middle schools are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. Throughout the children’s stay, they will participate in various events such as arts and crafts, playing games, a Sunday brunch, and visiting an American school before leaving on Jan. 14. Sakurada is an 11-year-old fifth-grade student from Oshima, and Wilson is a program assistant at the Camp Foster Youth Center. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released) (Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle)


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Yoshihito Sakurada watches and smiles while Columbus Wilson III scores a basket Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Sakurada along with 23 other students from Oshima elementary and middle schools are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. The fourth through eigth-grade children were invited to participate in the program. Sakurada is an 11-year-old fifth-grade student from Oshima, and Wilson is a program assistant at the Camp Foster Youth Center. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released)

Yoshihito Sakurada watches and smiles while Columbus Wilson III scores a basket Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Sakurada along with 23 other students from Oshima elementary and middle schools are visiting Okinawa as part of a four-day youth cultural exchange and homestay program. The fourth through eigth-grade children were invited to participate in the program. Sakurada is an 11-year-old fifth-grade student from Oshima, and Wilson is a program assistant at the Camp Foster Youth Center. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released) (Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle)


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Staff Sgt. Cheryl L. King and her daughter, Ava, receive a gift from Naoya Murakami and Saya Onodera Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Twenty-four children and six chaperones from Oshima Island are participating in the youth cultural exchange and homestay program. The students from Oshima prefecture are staying with military families that volunteered to host them during their visit on Okinawa. King is the training chief with S-3, training and operations, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Murakami and Onadera are both students on Oshima Island, which was affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released)

Staff Sgt. Cheryl L. King and her daughter, Ava, receive a gift from Naoya Murakami and Saya Onodera Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center. Twenty-four children and six chaperones from Oshima Island are participating in the youth cultural exchange and homestay program. The students from Oshima prefecture are staying with military families that volunteered to host them during their visit on Okinawa. King is the training chief with S-3, training and operations, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Murakami and Onadera are both students on Oshima Island, which was affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by /Released) (Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle)


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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- Twenty-four children and six chaperones from Oshima District, Kesennuma City, Miyagi prefecture, arrived Jan. 11 at the Camp Foster Youth Center to take part in the second annual youth cultural exchange and homestay program.

The program was created following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011 and was designed to allow the children of Oshima to enjoy their summer holiday in a stress-free environment.

“Today is the first of a four-day homestay youth cultural exchange program,” said Robert D. Eldridge, the deputy assistant chief of staff, G-7, government and external affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “It’s the second annual homestay that we have conducted for the children of the island of Oshima to spend a few days with the Marines and their families in Okinawa.”

The children are fourth through eighth-grade students at Oshima elementary and middle schools.

“We were invited by the Marine Corps to come to Okinawa the year after the disaster,” said Hironobu Sugawara, homestay program manager and Oshima City Assembly member. “Last time, we had 25 children visit, and we want to keep the ties between us and the Marines strong. This year, the children will have the opportunity to attend school with the American children to learn from each other.”

The children of Oshima are excited to be on Okinawa and look forward to their stay, according to Daisuke Chiba, a 13-year-old seventh-grader participating in the exchange program.

“This is my first time coming to Okinawa,” said Chiba. “I look forward to seeing Okinawa and spending time with the (Marine) family I will be staying with.”

Throughout the children’s stay, they will participate in various events such as arts and crafts, playing games, a Sunday brunch, and visiting an American school before leaving Jan. 14.


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