South American students visit Okinawa for cultural exchange with the elderly
July 7, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
South American students of Okinawan descent took part in an extra-curricular course about Okinawa’s emigration history and South American cultures and lifestyles at the Okinawa Cultural Center in Okinawa City on July 3. About 40 elderly people from Peare Paradise Koju School, which specializes in lifelong learning, took part in the course. Through exchanges with the South American students, the elderly deepened their cross-cultural understanding.
Eight students from Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil, Peru and the United States took part. They held workshops for the elderly, using photographs of their countries and serving their local dishes.
Colin Foo from Hawaii introduced himself by using Uchinaguchi. He talked about the hog farms managed by his relatives.
Lusia Miyuki Teruya, who came from Brazil, described and showed photos of an annual Okinawan clan ceremony .
She pointed out one of her relatives in the photograph, who was holding red string for the ceremony. Lusia said that she realized the importance of connecting with her relatives through studying the history and ceremonies of Okinawa, where she has her roots.
Seventy-two-year-old Takeshi Takara said, “Interacting with South American Okinawan youth was a good experience for me. I enjoyed spending time with Uchinanchu from various countries.”
Hiroshi Oshiro, the administrative director of the Okinawa International Exchange & Human Resources Development Foundation which ran the course, said, “There are over 400,000 Okinawa descendants who come from various countries, in Okinawa and Japan. I would like Okinawan people to deepen cross-cultural understanding by exchanging culture with international students of Okinawan descent.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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