Misawa Global Friendship Camp 2021

  • Published

Edgren Middle High School hosted the second Global Friendship Camp at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Dec. 4-5, 2021.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or MoFA, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA, coordinated this event that allows children from local Japanese middle schools and DoDEA students throughout Japan an opportunity to understand each other’s cultures while getting to know one another. This program is designed to develop teamwork skills, embrace diverse perspectives and demonstrate international cooperation.

Last year Misawa was the only base that allowed participants to collaborate on projects and present to an audience in person. As the second Global Friendship Camp held in Misawa, this year was just as successful. Misawa was the third base this year to host the program by having traveling instructors come in and run the program for the 7th and 8th graders from Edgren Middle High School and the Junior High Schools from the city of Misawa: Daiichi, Daini, Daisan, Daigo and Horiguchi.

The camp started with opening remarks from Dr. Ronald J. Knight Jr., DoDEA Pacific East District community superintendent; U.S. Army Col. Don Nestor, United States Forces Japan command engineer; and U.S. Air Force Col. Timothy Murphy, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander, who encouraged  the students to appreciate participation in this program while enjoying bonding with one another.

The students went on to play an icebreaker game which included a language exchange section and ended with the children forming five groups that created a flag to represent each member of their group.

“As students are the focus of these gatherings, I can emphatically state that they all had a wonderful experience. Many of the students still express thanks for being included. Our visiting camp teachers experiencing Misawa for the first time extended a heartfelt thanks to everyone here at Edgren for our hospitality,” said Paris Rhoad, MoFA event coordinator. “This event was an exceptional experience for all involved, and we look forward to continuing our partnership, building our relationships, and strengthening our bonds as we look ahead to 2022!”

The second day was a continuation of the event, starting with a warmup. The students formed groups again and created a mascot. The day ended with closing remarks by Mr. Kohiyama Yoshinori, Misawa mayor; Mr. Keiichi Ichakawa, MoFA North American Affairs Bureau of Japan director-general; and Mr. Andrew Lee, U.S. Consulate General of Sapporo consul general.

The closing remarks mentioned the great presentations the students gave out, how this program was a unique opportunity that not many students their age may have and hoped for each to understand a different perspective together.

“We have hosted the Global Friendship Camp for two years running, with the aim of furthering U.S. and Japan relations and increasing mutual understanding. Under the theme of friends and friendship, students from DoDEA and Misawa deepen their friendships through such activities as designing posters and creating a local mascot,” said Yoshinori. “It has been a wonderful opportunity for Japanese and American students to better understand one another.”

This year’s program was drastically different than last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. With 2022 around the corner, Edgren plans to host another event next year based off the positive feedback from the students, faculty and local leaders.