MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — There are many ways to play a sport, many ways to cook a recipe, and diversity among these activities can be highlighted between different cultures in the world. Through interaction and play, human beings can find a common ground.
More than 300 Matthew C. Perry Elementary School and Kawashimo Elementary School students and their families came together to participate in the U.S.-Japan Friendship Exchange at the IronWorks Gym here Feb. 27.
The event was organized by the Chugoku-Shikoku Defense Bureau and sponsored by Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Iwakuni city, all of whom have been directly involved with friendship exchange events in the past.
The exchange kicked off with a ten-minute opening ceremony with greetings from Col. Michael A. O’Halloran, station commanding officer; Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni; and Noriaki Nakamura, the director general of CSDB.
A series of scheduled activities had been organized for the kids to do so that they could interact and understand the differences between their cultures.
Throughout the day, the parents were also given a chance to interact by engaging in cooking lessons.
The fathers learned how to cook hot dogs while the mothers learned how to cook meatloaf and Japanese doughnuts, which were handed out to all who attended.
From 9:10 to 9:50 a.m., American and Japanese children sat down at tables staged in the middle of the basketball courts to make and decorate kites they would get to fly later on in the day.
The children were given markers and other art supplies to draw characters or anything they wanted. Some drew their native flags and others drew cartoon characters.
From 9:50 to 10:30 a.m., American and Japanese children competed with and against each other in various games such as bun-biting races and tug-of-war.
The children also participated in various sports such as kickball, dodgeball and basketball. Instruction was provided by American volunteers.
“Their games are a little bit different from our games,” said Lance Cpl. Shanaya E. Payne, volunteer. “Dodgeball is the same way, but their rules are different from our rules. They keep playing while we play three strikes, you’re out.”
There were also various alternative activities available. Bounce houses and inflatable basketball hoops were staged inside the gym for the children to play.
At the end of the day, all the children and their parents went outside to fly the kites they had made earlier.
According to Mayor Fukuda, the event attracted a good turn out.
“We’re not just stationed in Japan,” added O’Halloran. “We live here, so it’s important to get along and know our neighbors.”
At the end of the event, all the children and staff involved in the event posed for a group photo, displaying some of the decorated kites that had been made and the new friendship they had formed.
Originally published: Marines.mil