Yokosuka girls scout out new sisters, friends
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Like little diplomats, the girls stepped up to solemnly shake hands between American and Japanese flags.
One column of girls was dressed in blue; the other in brown and green. In true Girl Scout tradition, they were out to “make new friends and keep the old.”
On Sunday, 20 girls entered the Japanese American Sister Scouts in Yokosuka (JASSY) program.
Many of the girls shyly exchanged gifts. Some held hands.
Nicki Evertson and Nanami Shigemori immediately sat down and started making origami birds together.
“I like sister scouts,” Evertson said. “I hope to see Nanami a lot.”
JASSY pairs up girls ages 6 to 14 from Yokosuka’s USA Girl Scouts Overseas with the local Japanese troop. The collaboration started in 1974 with a charter signed by both USA Girl Scouts Overseas and Japanese Girl Scouts.
An introductory event is held every year where the families swap contact information so the new sisters can keep in touch.
The girls will play together and, hopefully, learn from each other, said JASSY chairwoman Kyung S. Kim.
“It’s our way of building an international understanding and experiencing different cultures,” Kim said.
But this isn’t exclusive to the little girls. Parents and siblings also benefit from the exchange, Kim added. Moms and dads do the driving and planning of activities, and often the friendship spreads to the whole family, she said.
“There aren’t too many opportunities for base families to have relationships with our host nation like this,” Kim said. “The families really enjoy it.”
Angie Back, who brought her daughter to the event, agreed.
“It’s fantastic,” Back said. “We’ve never been a part of anything like this before.”