USO hosts community
Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan -- Camp Hansen’s USO hosts a fun-filled evening semi monthly to entertain service members looking to have a night out without emptying their pockets. Titled the Pre-Payday Pig-Out, the event offers service members free food and games.
The USO spiced-up the Aug. 31 pig-out with an Okinawa theme that included local musicians performing traditional Okinawa music and inviting students from the Nikkei Business College in Naha to come out and socialize with the service members.
“The American service members were very friendly, and I enjoyed spending time with them,” said Yurino Higa, a student at Nikkei Business College. “We showed them how to use our Okinawa-made musical instruments and (performed a few traditional Okinawa songs).”
The exchange was mutual with service members performing American-style music and demonstrating the use of American-style instruments.
“After they performed, they taught us how to play the Okinawa instruments and they were not shy about it one bit, so I returned the favor by teaching them how to play guitar,” said Lance Cpl. Sheldon M. Stelter, a geographic intelligence specialist with Production and Analyst Company, 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.
The shared passion of music was not the only highlight of the night.
“The interaction started rolling once we started the Okinawa-style feast,” said Stelter. “Some of the students sat down with us and shared the background of where the food came from.”
Camp Hansen’s USO hosts other similar events throughout the year.
“My goal is to have at least one community relations event every month to help build the relationships between the two nations,” said LouBee Zielinski, Camp Hansen’s USO center manager. “Every time we have hosted a community event, it has been a huge success.”
The USO is able to provide recreation, but it can also be educational for people about (the culture) they are in, so they can enjoy it that much more, according to Zielinski.
“At the end of the day, we are all people and it’s nice when you get the opportunity to have people from the same generation, even if they are from different cultures, get together, have a good time and appreciate each other’s company,” said Zielinski.
Both parties valued the exchange of knowledge and culture.
“It was so great that it shouldn’t be a one-time thing,” said Stelter. “Everybody was having fun tonight, so it shouldn’t stop here or be the last one.”
For more details on upcoming events, visit the USO’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USOHansen.