Saturday, November 8, 2008

OIWC Culture Group October Gathering

I have the great honor of being part of a fabulous organization called the Okinawa International Women's Club or OIWC. I was a member of this same organization during our first tour in Okinawa back in 1998 and was so excited to get plugged in again once we returned. I am so excited to share this organization with you and my fun, new, Japanese friends! OIWC has been around for 55 years. Our club is made up of women from all over the world who gather at monthly events to promote friendship and cultural exchange while at the same time raising funds and awareness for different charities all over the Pacific realm.

My favorite part of OIWC is the smaller extensions of the main membership that we call Culture Groups. This small group provides a personal setting for learning about and sharing the many cultures that are on Okinawa. We hosted our first Culture Group gathering at my home in October and we wanted to share our culture's tradition of Halloween. We started with carving pumpkins and had a blast.

Candice is a Navy wife who is one of the members of our culture group on the American side. She lives near me in the Courtney area and we actually met on-line through a great blog for people who live on Okinawa. Her pride and joy comes in the package of a 2 year old bundle of pink energy named Jordan.

Candice jumped right in to help our guests start the carving process. We thought it would be best to carve our works of pumpkin art out on one of our balconies for easier clean-up and for the great breeze that cooled us down during our activity.

Mikako really got into the artsy part of our activity. She was very precise in her drawing and carving and the end result was great!! The pictures do not do her pumpkin justice. She is a mom to teenagers and is a member on the Japanese side.

Before we got started we thought enough in advance to wardrobe
each of our guests with one of many aprons. We knew they would dress nicely for our gathering and they thought we were very thougthful to take in account the mess we would create. I love how the pictures show how cute they each look in our various aprons. And yes, for you skeptics who know me well, I actually donated 4 aprons. You don't have to use them to own them!!! I also thought it would be a good idea to have some pumpkin seeds already baked so they could sample them. They loved the idea and each lady went home with a baggie of their own seeds to bake!!!

I was busy cleaning up seeds, pumpkin guts and keeping an eye on the lunch we were preparing but I did make time to get a little slimy and carve some of the insides out!!!!

Kyoko seemed to really enjoy the carving process and did a great job of copying the example we had for them to see. Bill had carved a sample pumpkin and I forgot to take a picture of it. We also learned the lesson of how important timing is when carving a pumpkin on a tropical island. He carved said pumpkin on Wednesday night and it started to rot on Friday morning. My happy pumpkin turned angry and put off a yucky smell. We won't forget that little piece of info for next year!!!

Our Japanese guests really got into their projects and insisted we take pictures together. Candice actually helped two of our ladies since I was running around like a pumpkin without a lid!!! She is pictured with Setsuko who is a very proud grandmother and speaks great English. We are so blessed that they speak far better English than we speak Japanese!

Jennifer is a friend of mine that I met in 29 Palms a few years ago through our husbands who worked together!! Her family, Steve and their two sons, moved to Okinawa a couple of months after us. Jenn assisted Eriko with her pumpkin. Eriko is the youngest Japanese member and has only been married 4 years. She spent 7 years in Ohio so now we affectionately refer to her as Miss Ohio. She is very humble in regards to her ability to speak English and is very excited to be speaking more English now that she is a member of OIWC.

This group photo only has 6 of the 8 members on the Japanese side and I love how great they look in our aprons. Their pumpkins turned out great and they seemed to have had a good time.

From Left to right: Mustuko, Mikako, Kimie, Setsuko, Kyoko and Eriko.

We worked up a huge appetite so we moved our festivities inside to eat lunch. I got my hands on a yummy recipe that is easy to prepare and feeds a lot of people. Lara White shared her Chicken & Sausage Chili recipe with me a few years ago and it has been a hit!!!! Of course, no American lunch is complete without the perfect dessert. Jenn brought the Scary Dessert for us all to share. You create this graveyard ensemble with chocolate or vanilla pudding and crumbled cookies. Then you decorate the cookie tombs with your favorite names and add the gummy worms for effect. Needless to say, it was a hit!!! We also had a wonderful strawberry cake that Candice made but I forgot to take a picture of that, too!!! What was I busy doing??

In addition to sending our guests home with their carved pumpkins and seeds, we wanted them to have a little candy goodie, too!!! They seemed to like the homemade
tag more than what was inside!!!! It's fun to watch their faces as we presented each one with a gift!!!!

It is very traditional for the Japanese to bring a gift for the hostess. I received this beautiful pottery set from their group. It was explained to me that you can use it for sake or as a vase for a small flower. There is a small ball inside that makes it sound somewhat like a bell but the explanation for that got lost in translation. I think the tiny cups are perfect and I'm excited to have another great item that will always remind me of Okinawa!!!

I think it's safe to say "fun was had by all"!!!!!


Pen to Paper; Spirit to Soul said...

It looks like y'all had lots of fun! It is so neat to learn about another's gives greater insight as to who they are!

You are doing a great job of letting your LIGHT shine there on that island!

Pamela in TX

Blake and Hollie said...

Wow! This looks like a great group of women. I bet you had a lot of fun, sure looks like you all did. I experienced the same thing with the rotting of pumpkins :)

Thanks for sharing this post, it was fun to see such a great get together of women and culture.

Pen to Paper; Spirit to Soul said...

Hey! Would you please send me your physical address? You were first to respond to my give-away and I have something special for you!


Dian said...

Love the new look!


Kristen said...

hey. love your new look. I have no idea why you couldn't leave a comment. I haven't changed anything. Let me know if it continues. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there . . . This was a great post. I kind of miss the commraderie of being on base and hanging out with other wives... It would have been fun to do an overseas tour. You are so rich with experiences!!
Miss you . . .