For 35 years, Alma Oline lived in Japan. She and her late husband traveled there as missionaries, and together they forged a life in a new country where he started a radio station featuring English and Japanese music, a cooking show, readings for the blind, ministries and a recording studio while Alma taught English.
Oline says her students ranged from kindergarteners to high school students getting ready to go to university. Now, the situation is reversed: Alma is teaching Japanese to a group at the Gulfport Recreation Center.
“I had no knowledge of Japanese when we got there and I studied with a private tutor for a year and a half,” Oline says. “I concentrated on speaking and understanding the language.”
Oline also taught Bible studies classes and says her knowledge of Japanese, as well as the many friends she and her husband met, made her time in there enjoyable.
“I developed a love of the language and the people,” she says. “I didn’t want to lose my ability to speak Japanese so I decided to teach a class in basic Japanese.”
At the Rec Center, Oline teaches her students about the phonetic alphabet as well as useful phrases such as “How are you?” and “I eat sushi.”
Alma Oline’s Learning Japanese class is held on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Gulfport Recreation Center. For more information, go to mygulfport.us/recreation/rec.