Locals sharing their Japanese culture

Locals sharing their Japanese culture

by Stearley Heights Elementary School
Stripes Okinawa

Stearley Heights Elementary School (SHES) celebrated Asian-Pacific Day on Thursday, May 3rd.

Over 160 Japanese volunteers came to the school to share the culture of our host-nation with SHES students. Hands-on cultural sessions were set up in the classrooms, which invited students to participate in experiences such as playing the sanshin, Taiko drumming, tea ceremony, kimono dressing, origami, Ikebana flower arrangement, Japanese calligraphy, mochi and lumpia making, and popular Japanese games and crafts.

Organized by SHES Japanese language and culture teachers, Mr. Makoto Kinjo and Ms. Megumi Hateruma, the celebration opened with a combined performance of the Stearley Heights Taiko club together with the Kajimaya Taiko group. Students then rotated through the different cultural workshops until the end of the day. The sparkle in the students’ eyes and the smiles on their faces expressed what words could not. Actively engaged, the students enjoyed the many sessions and were excited to take their hand-made crafts home at the end of the day.

Fourth grade student Anice N. enthusiastically shared, “The mochi was very good because it was fresh and chewy. You should definitely try it!”

The SHES community and parents provided lunch for the volunteers, who enjoyed the buffet of local and American-style foods and desserts. The experience proved to be a valuable one for the guests as well.

“We had a great cultural exchange,” expressed Taiko instructor, Mr. Kobashigawa.

To end the day, students presented the volunteers with certificates and small gifts to show their appreciation, and the SHES Spanish Dance Club performed to provide a new cultural experience for the volunteers as well. It was a unique event to immerse students into Japanese culture and, more importantly, a great opportunity to strengthen the ties between the American community and our host-nation.

A huge thank you to Mr. Kinjo and Ms. Hateruma for all their hard work and to everyone who helped make this memorable event such a success!

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