Airmen bring holiday cheer to Japanese youth

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The holidays came early for local Japanese children as Airmen from Misawa volunteered their time and shared Christmas traditions during three separate holiday venues.

The 35th Fighter Wing's Focus 5/6, a base organization of non-commissioned officers, helped organize the 19th Annual Oirase/Misawa Air Base sixth-grade Christmas Cultural Exchange Party here Dec. 10.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Lam, Focus 5/6's vice president, escorted Oirase Town Elementary School sixth-graders on base, where they met American children from Sollars Elementary School.

The children were divided into equal mixed groups and participated in a variety of games, activities and international cultural learning. They learned each other's names and asked each other questions to gain insight on the typical activities and interests of children their age.

The Airmen served pizza to the children, who sat among each other and communicated through gestures and expressions while they ate. The Japanese children taught everyone a traditional Christmas song in Japanese. Later, they were paired with an American child to exchange presents.

Another major holiday event brought the base's Company Grade Officer's Council off base to host a Christmas party Dec. 16 in Shichinohe, Japan. For the third year in a row, the town's elementary school children attended the party with Misawa students. The town office officials donated a hall for the party location as the number of attendees grew in size.

First Lieutenant George Noah, member of the CGOC, led the hall's decorating efforts. The mixed group ate a holiday meal, played games and children received presents.
A third event, sponsored by the 35th Maintenance Squadron's Top Four organization, also spread holiday cheer at the Oirase Town North Area Community Center Dec. 19.
Master Sgt. Derrick Sorrel led the 19th Annual Oirase Town/Misawa AB fifth-grade Children's Christmas Party.

No matter where these volunteers worked, instead of saying, "good-bye," at the end of these events, they were saying "jaa-nee," (see you) and "Ome-de-tou Me-rii Ku-ri-su-ma-su," (Merry Christmas) with smiles and departing waves.

I would like to say, "Domo arigato," (Thank you) to all the volunteers and Misawa organizations, including the Air Force Sergeants Association and Top 3 for providing funding, and the volunteers to make these annual events possible.