CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan – Marines and their family members joined 88 Okinawan students at the House of Pain Fitness Center, here, during the Okinawan-American Cultural Exchange Day, May 19.
The students, from Nikkei College of Business, located in Okinawa City and Naha City, Okinawa, had 10 different booths with presentations about Okinawan and Japanese culture, music, language, arts, games, and food.
In return, Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force taught the students about American culture, games, music, as well as types of military training Marines complete on base and around Okinawa.
“The primary purpose of the event is to provide young Marines and their family members an opportunity to learn about Okinawa and Japan,” said Takayuki Kayo, a community relations specialist with III MEF Headquarters Group. “It also provides an opportunity for local nationals to learn about who Marines are, emphasizing that they have a lot of things in common.”
According to Kayo, this was the first time that college students from the Okinawan community have visited a Marine Corps base to give cultural presentations.
“This cultural exchange gives the local students a chance to see what goes on behind the fences, whether with training or just a day in the life,” said Lance Cpl. John Clark, a field radio operator with 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III MEF. “These students don’t get many chances to see what goes on within American military bases.”
Kayo said the event was a success and hopes Okinawan students and Marines come together in the future to make more cultural exchanges possible.
“This is the first ever Okinawan-American Cultural Exchange Day and hopefully not the last,” Kayo said.
For more information about cultural exchange events, please contact Takayuki Kayo at (315) 633-4509 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Lance Cpl. Charles Plouffe