Marine spouses share meal with English class
URUMA CITY, Okinawa - Laughter and cheerful conversation between people of different cultures fills the room as food is passed between friends during a potluck meal.
Marine spouses shared a lunch with the students of an English language class Nov. 21 at Sub Village Hall in Uruma City, near Camp Courtney.
The lunch provided an opportunity for the students to practice their English skills and interact with the guests in their country, according to Ichiro Umehara, the teacher of the class and a community relations specialist at Camp Courtney.
“We meet for our classes every Thursday,” said Umehara. “I teach them to speak English, but it is good to have practice and this visit was a good opportunity for them.”
Before they ate, the students performed a dance known as Kagiyadeho, a dance performed at the beginning of ceremonies, according to Umehara. After the dance, the students and spouses set the table and sat down to enjoy the shared meal.
The dinner was an opening for the spouses to embrace one aspect of the culture of Okinawa, according to Grace Carmichael, a Marine spouse who attended the lunch.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to go out and experience a completely different culture,” said Carmichael. “This was an opportunity for us to do that, and we had a fun time while learning about each other.”
The lunch was provided by the students and included traditional dishes, such as dragon fruit jam with crackers, rice balls wrapped in seaweed and other Okinawa favorites.
A holiday meal provided by the spouses is in the works, according to U.S. Navy Lt. Steven G. Hervey, the chaplain with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“(Some) of the Okinawans have never seen an actual turkey before,” said Hervey. “Sharing a meal together is a great chance to experience new cultures and get to know each other on a personal level. By sharing a few of our recipes and cooking styles with them, we are not only building relations but showing what our own cultures have to offer as well. We learn from them, and they learn from us.”
At the end of the night the participants parted ways and returned home, their hunger sated and smiles on their faces. They were grateful for the opportunity to experience unique cultures along with making new friends, according to Carmichael.