By Daniel Taylor, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affiars
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) hosted a cultural exchange event with the City of Yokosuka, Sept. 22.
The event was a coordinated effort between the CFAY Public Affairs Office’s Japanese Public Affairs and Media Relations Division team and the City of Yokosuka that looked to partner 25 U.S. volunteers with 25 local Japanese Nationals for a “Navy Bowling” Day.
“Navy Bowling” Day serves as a fun way for U.S. servicemembers and local Japanese citizens to get together and get to know each other through friendly competition at the base Bowling Center, said Fumiyo Asao, CFAY Public Affairs Master Labor Contract (MLC) Media Specialist.
“The cultural exchanges are important for both service members and Japanese people,” said Asao. “It gives an opportunity for both Japanese and Sailors to meet each other in person and understand about each other’s cultures and countries.”
“Service members can live more comfortably here in Japan with the Japanese people’s understanding and support,” continued Asao. “Typically, the general public tend to learn about the U.S. Navy Sailors through media/news outlets which usually focus on negative news. We hope that our events help Japanese participants understand what kind of people are actually working here on base.”
The Navy Bowling day is one of the many events CFAY has hosted to bring the base and local Yokosuka communities together to foster goodwill and build on an already established friendship and partnership with each other added Asao.
CFAY hosted Navy Cafe events earlier in the year which were very successful in bringing Japanese interested in learning or practicing English together with CFAY servicemembers and having conversations over coffee or tea in a relaxing cafe-like environment.
The Navy Bowling event was the third cultural exchange event this year, co-sponsored with the City of Yokosuka, the first being a clean-up event with Sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the second was a cooking event designed to show base residents how to make Japanese curry and gyoza.
For the “Navy Bowling” event, 25 Japanese volunteers, who were selected by Yokosuka city officials via a lottery, were escorted to the Bowling Center where they met with 25 CFAY volunteers. Volunteers were assigned to specific teams made up of both Japanese and American participants to encourage interaction.
Once the teams were set, the groups got their bowling shoes and balls ready and hit the lanes. The spirit of friendly competition helped foster camaraderie and conversation. One Japanese volunteer, Misaki Yamanaka, a Yokosuka-area high school student, was particularly interested in the conversational portions of the event.
“I am interested in English and want to be employed in a career related to using English,” said Misaki. “I do not have many opportunities to speak English every day, so my favorite part of today was having conversations with Americans in person.”
The day’s events were not only beneficial to the Japanese participants, the Sailors also benefit from the interaction with their new friends.
Cryptologic Technician Collection First Class Cipriano Ruvalcaba, an avid bowler, understood that the cultural exchange event play a part in a bigger picture than just having fun.
“I love meeting new people, and bowling with a new group of people is a blast. Even though I do not speak much Japanese, we can communicate through gestures like high-fives,” said Ruvalcaba. “These events are important, we are guests in their country and this is a nice way to say thanks.”
The CFAY Public Affairs/COMREL team have more events planned for this year and will be looking for more volunteers in the near future. Follow the Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cfayokosuka) and Twitter page (https://twitter.com/FLEACT_Yokosuka ) for more information on these upcoming events.
CFAY provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of 7th Fleet’s Forward-Deployed Naval Forces, 83 tenant commands, and 24,000 military and civilian personnel.