Misawa Global Friendship Camp 2022

  • Published
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Edgren Middle High School hosted their annual Youth Exchange Program, allowing U.S. students to meet and interact with participating Japanese students from the local area at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 5-6, 2022. 

The Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) partnered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to host a two-day initiative that creates an environment for local and host nation students to meet one another to break language and culture barriers while making lifelong friends.

The lessening severity of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the success of last year’s event, spurred a program expansion to support more students, almost doubling the number of participants. 

The event's opening ceremony started with the playing of the Japan and the U.S. national anthems performed by the school’s choir. Then, remarks were made by the school and base’s leadership, as well as words from U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Richard, 35th Fighter Wing commander. 

“Through different interactive activities, our American and Japanese middle school students will cultivate and expand on a diverse perspective of the world, hone problem-solving skills and increase cross-cultural understanding and acceptance,” Richard said. “We are thrilled to support this event with our Japanese neighbors and further strengthen our partnership with local community members.”
The students were then divided into different groups inside the classroom where they worked together to complete activities. The activities included: coming up with a team name for their group, creating a skit that compared each other's cultures to present to the class, and creating a mascot with the theme of ‘friendship between the U.S. and Japan.’

The games and activities were designed to have students notice, understand and appreciate the differences, as well as the similarities, between the two cultures. They also positioned students to challenge and overcome language barriers in different scenarios.
“I like being here and participating,” said Zachery Bell, Edgren Middle School eighth grader and program participant. “It gives us a chance to meet one another where we could’ve just passed by each other on the street.”