By Candateshia Pafford and Alia Naffouj, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMarch 15, 2016
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 16, 2016) -- Children from the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Child Development Center spent the day with local Japanese children from Hosen Kindergarten March 11 during a cultural exchange visit.
Audrey Daugherty, facility director for SFHA CDC, said the theme of the day was "Dr. Seuss: Reading, Learning, and Friendship."
Daugherty said the day was about bringing the kids together to celebrate diversity and to have fun.
"We are trying to reach out to our host nation, children and families- invite them in... for some fun activities so they can see a little bit of what we do."
Daugherty said the day was an exchange in cultures- about 40 Hosen children experienced American education, games and cultural activities throughout the day while sharing their own cultural activities through songs and games.
Naohito Sato, principal of Hosen Kindergarten, said the children always enjoy exchange events like "Unity Day."
"Today, our children were all excited on a bus when we came here this morning. They were saying 'it will be fun,' and 'I can't wait!'"
But once the Hosen children arrive, Sato said they seem to be a little shy.
Daugherty said the language difference; however, was not a barrier.
"A smile is a smile wherever you go," she said.
The kids may not understand the language or gestures from one another when interacting; however, a smile is inviting and welcoming, said Daugherty.
"We seem to all get along."
The kids may have been shy and scared upon meeting each other-worried about if they will understand each other (verbally), but when they started playing.
"It doesn't matter anymore," said Daugherty, "once we start smiling and having fun nothing [else] matters."
The purpose of "Unity Day," is to create a bond with the host nation and gain global understanding, said Daugherty.
"We are all one people, just trying to have fun together," she said.
The SFHA CDC and Hosen Kindergarten host several unity days throughout the year to experience various culture exchanges, such as holidays and special annual events.
Sato said it will be really great if the Hosen and CDC can visit each other more often.
"I want to hold this event as long as I can for our children so that they will be able to naturally communicate each other in the future," he said.
"These children will take [this] experience with them for life," said Daugherty.