CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 23 2014) -- Several of Camp Zama's community members gathered at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area library on July 22 for an opportunity to learn conversational Japanese from a native speaker, here.

Colleen Madrazo, a class participant, said because her family will be in the area for three years, she wanted to learn more about the Japanese culture.

"I want to be able to speak to the local Japanese people in their own language," said Madrazo.

The Japanese beginner's class started on July 8. The instructor, Yuki Atsumi, said the class will focus on basic greetings and phrases.

"I plan to use games or role-playing to help (the class participants) learn better," said Atsumi.

Atsumi said she learned to speak English many years ago, by taking classes on SFHA and one of her teachers encouraged her to teach Japanese to Americans.

Gen Dine, another class participant, said Atsumi did a great job in teaching the class by "making everybody feel comfortable."

Despite the community member's efforts in learning a new language there were challenges.

Dine said her biggest challenge was not being able to understand each individual word when a native speaker speaks it.

"I need to see it in writing to… remember the words."

Madrazo said that she loves to learn and leaving (the class) knowing that she only learned one new phrase that day makes her feel like she is learning.

"I'm a step ahead," said Madrazo.