Local farmers give station students a sweet surprise
Story by Lance Cpl. Muriah King
Matthew C. Perry Elementary School welcomed members of the Iwakuni Produce Commission Merchants Association and Oshima Agricultural Cooperative Association during a mikan presentation at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 19, 2018.
Local farmers presented the students of M.C. Perry and Iwakuni Elementary School with mikans, a citrus fruit similar to mandarin oranges, and in exchange the students surprised them with thank-you gifts.
“The mikan presentation is a gift of the local community to the American children at the school. ‘Mikan’ is the specific type of orange that is grown in this part of Japan, and the climate here is ideal for producing them,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. John E. Harris, executive officer of MCAS Iwakuni. “The gift of the mikan is literally the fruit of the labor, pun intended, of the local orchard keepers and it is a welcoming gift of the local Japanese to the U.S. military via our children.”
Twenty crates of mikans were brought for the students of both station elementary schools as a way to help strengthen the U.S. - Japan friendship. “This presentation is important because it shows the relationship between the Japanese community and the schools here,” said Chris Kimmey, the event coordinator. “I loved the presentation very much, and I know the students did as well. You can tell they always enjoy it, and they get mikans at the end.”
Kimmey added that two students who excelled in their Japanese language study were selected to thank the guests on behalf of the station.
With the help of their teachers, Annabelle Stelma, a student from M.C. Perry Elementary, and Runa Holladay, a student from Iwakuni Elementary, prepared a poem and a speech in Japanese to show their appreciation. They also presented the guests with cakes and t-shirts.
“The local community is extending a welcoming hand to MCAS Iwakuni,” said Harris. “We’re all in it together to ensure that the U.S.- Japanese alliance remains strong.”