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Program for Middle Schoolers to Explore Okinawan Culture, Family Roots

The Okinawa Association of America’s (OAA) “Camp Warabi” is a five-day summer program for middle school students to learn about Okinawan culture, arts, and identity.

The summer program will include eisaa (traditional drum-dancing) lessons (Illustration by Flor Kaneshiro)

College-age counselors will be selected and trained to lead campers as each day will be filled with fun learning and connecting with one’s Okinawan roots. The program is set for Monday, July 8 to Friday, July 12, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the OAA Center in Gardena.

Immersive learning – From traditional music to folk crafts, campers will have the chance to learn about Okinawa. Activities include eisaa (traditional drum-dancing) lessons, sanshin (traditional three-stringed instrument) lessons, learning simple words/phrases in the endangered Okinawan language, Okinawa-inspired arts and crafts, a youth-focused presentation about World War II’s Battle of Okinawa, and more.

Fellowship – This program will provide the opportunity for campers to meet fellow young Okinawans outside of their school and family circles and to develop their teamwork skills through engaging activities.

Reflection – Okinawan culture and history will be connected to deeper topics such as ancestry, nature, and values. Additionally, presentations about community, peace, and immigration aim to explore interconnectedness. The program will schedule daily sustained silent writing for campers to think about and expand on what they learned.

Okinawan values and beliefs – With each activity, the program will explore the values and beliefs that are embedded in Okinawan culture, including “ichariba choodee” (once we meet, we’re family), “yuimaaruu” (helping each other in the community), “nuchi du takara” (life is a treasure), and others.

Registration is required due to limited space. The early-bird fee is $200 for OAA members and $235 for non-members. Deadline: May 31. The regular fee is $225 for OAA members and $260 for non-members. Deadline: June 14.

The registration fee will help to cover daily lunches, snacks, and drinks; camper T-shirts; and workshop materials. Contact the OAA office (weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at or (310) 532-1929.

The Okinawa Association of America Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Okinawan culture in the greater Los Angeles area. Formed by Okinawan immigrants 110 years ago, the OAA has grown into a multi-generational organization hosting numerous events throughout the year, including cultural lectures, performances, social gatherings, and senior-focused activities. For updates about SuperCentennial events, including a Sept. 1 concert by the renowned Okinawan band Begin (ビギン), visit or

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