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    Bechtel ES parents share Halloween culture with local daycare, carve jack-o'-lantern

    Bechtel ES parents share Halloween culture with local daycare, carve jack-o'-lantern

    Photo By Yoshie Makiyama | A volunteer demonstrates carving the pumpkin.... read more read more

    OKINAWA, JAPAN

    01.21.2021

    Story by Yoshie Makiyama 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    With the extra care for preventing the spread of COVID-19, six parents from Bechtel Elementary School visited a school age care center in Okinawa Oct. 28, 2020, to demonstrate a pumpkin carving and share the culture of Halloween.

    Ichiro Umehara, community relations specialist for Camps Courtney and McTureous, coordinated with Kiley Jensen, the chair for the Bechtel School Advisory Committee of Elementary School on Camp McTureous when this year's Halloween was approaching.

    "In past years, SAC has hosted Trunk-or-Treats on Halloween evening and also went to some local Japanese schools to teach out our Halloween traditions," said Jensen. "We were seeking some way to still continue sharing culture with local children this year."

    With the ongoing pandemic, everyone had to follow specific guidelines in order to safely celebrate the holiday, according to Umehara.

    "We had to avoid close contact, so we couldn't do a big scale Halloween like usual. I was afraid that we might have to give up doing any events," said Umehara.

    Thanks to its location next to a botanical garden, one of Okinawa's popular tourist spot, the children of Chibana School Age Care Center are familiar with foreigners since they used to see tourists from other countries almost every day before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Yasukazu Tanaka, the director of Chibana School Age Care Center.

    Tanaka informed parents of 34 children, first grade to third grade, who attend at the nearby elementary school during the day, that parents from the on-base school were visiting the day care to show their demonstration of carving a pumpkin for Halloween.

    After introducing volunteers to children, Umehara explained the origin of Halloween. The volunteers showed the children flash cards with common Halloween images.

    "Spider, cat!" the children yelled out.

    The last image was jack-o'-lantern, but only a few children knew what jack-o'-lantern was. Umehara lowered the tone of his voice to set a spooky mood and told children about Stingy Jack. After explaining the origins of the jack-o'-lantern, some children gasped.

    "Teaching the origin of Halloween and jack-o'-lantern was good," Tanaka said. "It's important to know the history, so the children can have better understanding."

    After the introduction of Halloween, a volunteer brought a big orange pumpkin. Umehara told children that it would turn into a jack-o'-lantern, and they will get to see the process. "Can we eat it?" a child asked excitedly. Umehara replied with a stern “No.”

    The volunteer started carving while all the children gazed at her. She carved the pumpkin neatly and made it hollow. When she showed the inside of hollowed-out pumpkin to the children, everyone got excited.

    “It is always fun to see children's faces light up in fascination when you pull out the top of the pumpkin and the ‘guts’ hang out,” said Jensen.

    A child was picked to carve the last part for jack-o'-lantern. He, with a help from the volunteer, carved an eye out and pushed it through. After a teacher put a candle inside and lit it up, the children cheered.

    “The event was a success,” said Jensen. She stated that the committee reached out to the care center to share parts of their culture and traditions to better understand each other and hoped that this partnership of sharing creates stronger bonds between the peoples of both countries.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.21.2021
    Date Posted: 07.21.2021 20:56
    Story ID: 401346
    Location: OKINAWA, JP

    Web Views: 30
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN