Thursday, April 26, 2012

great experience

The Army runs a pretty neat program here at Camp Zama where every quarter 10 or so Japanese soldiers are selected to come live at Camp Zama for 2-3 months.  I don't know the specific requirements but from what I hear it is pretty selective and the Japanese soldier has to speak some level of English.  Each Japanese co-op is matched with an American Soldier whom they shadow while they are here.  They also attend training and meetings here.  The co-ops {Japanese soldier} and their sponsors {American soldier} attend social events and are encouraged to socialize outside of official functions.

Last month, Jason was approached and asked if he would like to sponsor a co-op this quarter.  Even though he is incredibly busy as the company commander, the specific co-op they wanted to match him with was an Engineer officer and since there are so few of those here at Zama, Jason agreed.  At first I thought he was crazy to say yes {our time together is limited as is} but knowing my husband, I can't say I was surprised.  Now that we're 3 weeks into the program, I am so glad that Jason agreed to do this.  Jason's co-op, Hama, is great.  Jason was blessed with a great co-op!

One day last week, while my mom was here, Jason called me around 1730 and told me that he had invited his co-op and 2 of the other co-ops {Taku & Nita} to dinner.  At our house.  In an hour.  With my mom's help, we were able to have the house clean and a tradition American BBQ on the table in time.  Since then we've had dinner with Hama once more and I've taken the 3 of them to the commissary which was a ton of fun.  It was so interesting to see someone experience an American grocery store for the 1st time.  For the most part our grocery stores are very similar but there are some differences.  Like the bulk isle in an American grocery store.  1 gallon jugs of barbecue sauce don't exist in Japan {that I know of}.  They also don't sell cans of Coke by the case like we do.  The only way I've ever seen Coke for sale in a Japanese grocery store is by the liter.

Tonight, Hama {and the guys} came over to our house and cooked a traditional Japanese meal using ingredients that are famous in his hometown

the meal was absolutely delicious!

 I am so grateful to Hama for cooking for us and sharing this dish with us.  

Jason adding another thing to his schedule is so worth it to get to know these guys 
{Taku, Hama, Nika, Jason}

I'm really bummed that I will be spending 5 of the weeks that they are here in the US.  I have loved the time we have spent with these guys and I wish I could be here for more time with them.  My life is better because of this experience!

If any of you who are reading this ever find yourself at Camp Zama and are ever offered the opportunity to participate in this program, I say go for it! {or any other international base that may have a similar program} Yes it is more work for the soldier but everyone involved benefits tremendously {IMO}.


Chantal said...

That's a cool idea!