By Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsOctober 15, 2018
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Oct. 15, 2018) -- Spc. Germaine Goodall wants to make an omelet, but he is having trouble breaking a few eggs.
"I have never cooked before," says the flummoxed Goodall as a Japanese instructor eagerly assists him with the task during a cooking class at the Zama Health Center in Zama City.
Goodall and three other Soldiers from Camp Zama's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program took part in the bilateral class Oct. 13 with the goal of preparing a traditional Japanese lunch box known as "bento," which, in addition to rice and an omelet, included a hamburger patty, pumpkin salad and broccoli salad.
Goodall said it was not difficult to follow the Japanese instructors, even considering the language barrier, because they gave the class clear, step-by-step visual instructions on how to prepare the food.
"It was scary, but fun," said Goodall, assigned to Military Police Battalion Japan. "It was exciting [getting] to eat what we made."
The Soldiers were very motivated and seemed to enjoy themselves, even taking a few liberties and some unique flourishes to the original recipe, said Sato.
"We really appreciate that the U.S. Soldiers showed an interest in learning about Japanese culture and how to make a bento box," said Tomoko Sato, the event organizer a representative for Zama City Office. "We would definitely like [the Soldiers] to continue to participate in other events we have planned in the future."
Kumiko Tanabe, the cooking instructor, used gestures to give the Soldiers instructions and said they followed along with her very well.
"I was not worried [about the Soldiers' ability to understand me], because words are not necessary when communicating person to person," said Tanabe, who added that the Soldiers' finished dishes were as good as those of the other Japanese participants.
Katsuyuki Wakai, one of the participants, said, "It was a very refreshing experience to interact with the Soldiers and to work toward a common goal."
Sgt. William Birdsall, BOSS president at Camp Zama, said he decided to participate in the cooking class because he wanted the program members to try something different from typical BOSS events such as outdoor excursions and theme park trips.
"[This was unique because] we got to mingle with local nationals and learn how to make an authentic bento box from scratch," said Birdsall, assigned to Military Police Battalion Japan, who added he was pleased to see the participating Soldiers develop their cooking skills.
"[Events like these] give the single Soldiers a chance to embrace ... Japanese culture," said Birdsall.
Sayuri Nagai, a community relations specialist assigned to U.S Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs, who served as an interpreter for the event, said she thought it was an excellent chance for the American participants to not only enhance their life skills, but also for them to interact with their host-nation neighbors.
"Through participating together in the events like this, it helps build a stronger relationship between the neighboring [Japanese] cities and Camp Zama," said Nagai.