AmerAsian School in Okinawa marks 15th anniversary of establishment

AmerAsian School in Okinawa marks 15th anniversary of establishment

One June 1, at Jubilance in Nodake, Ginowan, a party was held to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the AmerAsian School in Okinawa.

June 2, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 1, at Jubilance in Ginowan, the AmerAsian School in Okinawa celebrated the 15th anniversary of its establishment. Amerasian refers to people born in Asia to a U.S. military father and an Asian mother.
About 200 people – current students, parents, former students and well-wishers – attended the party.

Although only 39 students have officially graduated from the school in the past 15 years, about 400 have been enrolled at the school during that period. Some of the graduates went on to high schools or colleges and found work in Japan or the United States.

School principal, Midori Thayer.

Children who studied in the school have steadily begun to leave the nest and go on to become members of society.

The school principal, Midori Thayer, who is the mother of Amerasian children, was among those who founded the school in 1998.

Starting off as an unlicensed free school, it accepts Amerasian children who do not fit into Japanese schools because of the language barrier. The school teaches them in both Japanese and English.

Looking back on the time when the school was founded, Thayer said, “We didn’t have anything except passion and dreams. It was the start of a tough path forward.”

Despite criticism, the Okinawa Civil Rights Association and Okinawa Bar Association supported Thayer and the other people involved in the school.

The municipal governments of Ginowan and Okinawa certified the school in 1999 and Urasoe did the same in 2000. They decided to recognize attendance at the school as equivalent to that at public schools.

Thayer said, “Many Amerasian children struggle with a sense of alienation both in Japan and the United States. I want to create a place for them.” For the last 15 years, Thayer has committed herself to promoting a learning environment for Amerasian children.

She said, “Workplaces such as customer service desks at public institutions and hotels want bilingual people. I want our school’s students to work for Okinawa and to be able to foot it internationally.”

Eighteen-year-old Janey Sachi Fukunaga, who graduated from the school and is now a first-year student at Okinawa International University, said, “In the school, the students with the same family circumstances study together every day like family members. I enjoyed my school life with that family-like atmosphere.”

Now studying bookkeeping, Fukunaga said, “I want to become an international tax accountant.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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