If there’s one thing that I have gained from being a military child, (besides becoming a pizza addict) it was developing a love for where I live, believe it or not! Many of us military children are moved from one side of the world to the other. This comes with a series of hardships that negatively affect our life, whether it is losing contact with friends, struggling to find a home, or trying to adapt to a new environment.
I echo this sentiment. However, of these problems, we find faith in the solutions -- coming to terms with our environment. (And no, I do not mean our natural environment!) I mean the home you live in, the people you interact with, and the food you eat! Now, even though I have mostly been eating the same food from the Commissary for the last 16 years, there are always interesting dishes that invigorate my stomach soul with intrigue! And it is not just food that is fascinating.
Wherever I am, there is always something new that intrigues me! In Okinawa in 2007, I was but a wee whippersnapper, but I faintly remember hearing loud drumming near my house. One day, my family was out in the park near my house where, suddenly, I burst from my parents and ran straight to the drumming. There, in the middle of the street, was a crowd of people surrounding… well, drummers! More specifically, Eisa Dancers. They wore tremendous red turbans, bright white shoes, and knotted headbands. Their most important feature was the 大太鼓, or Odaiko, meaning big drum, which are about the size of bass drums. Unlike the bass drums, however, Odaiko are very sturdy, resisting full cracks of strength, similar to the Eisa Drummers themselves, and are a bright red. In the folk dance, Eisa Dancers beat to the sound of music and cheer. It was massive, loud, and I LOVED IT! The gleeful atmosphere really invigorated me, and (when my parents finally caught up) I was absolutely euphoric, dancing in the crowds adjacent to the dancers.
Fast forward to 2012, I had just moved to Texas. It was mid-July and our family was sleeping on the floor without furniture. I was just as bored as it was hot. I had made meaningful friends in Japan, but I lost them to the move. So, the situation was not particularly the best, but the occasion was! That weekend, we waited for our furniture to arrive. Nearby, in the city of Weatherford, there was a Peach Festival. This piqued my imagination, and I instantly thought of peaches that were the size of me! Sadly, there were no such peaches, but there were many different uses of peaches, more than I had ever thought of! Peach salsa was one confusing, but delicious item; peach jerky made me contemplate how peaches and jerky mixed; and a competition of the best peach cobblers in the northern region of Texas was awesome -- all of which were truly the best! (It’s making me hungry as I am writing this now...!) I never would have found this in Okinawa or Korea with the Lone Star state’s spin on peaches!
These examples are some of many that illustrate the different experiences that occurred in two locations that contrasted with each other on a global scale. By feeling the interactions and forms of culture, we are acclimating, learning, and thriving off of it. These experiences build our character and shape our decisions, becoming a fundamental part of us. In more ways than one, we are connected through a shared culture, a military culture foremost, but also, through a culmination of the places we have gone and grown from. Here is an easy way to think about it: we are a pizza. We all start off as an untouched piece of dough, but over time, we come to gain the ingredients of experience to distinguish our versatile flavor. Through the flames of hardship and time, we materialize as diversified, worldly individuals, piping hot with perception, steaming with ambition, and ready to be served!