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Women’s Club Consecrates International Cultural Exchange

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-12-17

Okinawa International Women’s Club, hereafter OIWC, held it’s Christmas Bazaar and Luncheon at Butler Officers’ Club on Camp Foster on Monday December 6th. This annual holiday season Bazaar and Luncheon has been The OIWC’s biggest money-raising event for the past years, an occasion for the ladies to share their love and generosity with less fortunate people. It is one of the activities that the Club members hold very close to their hearts.

The group has registered a solid establishment, recorded constant growth in its size and activities since creation. When this nonprofit association was established 45 years ago, it was open only to the wives of high ranking officers and government officials. However, doors to the Club have widened over the years. Females of any nationality, cultural background, and any religion are welcome to join today, as long as they share the common interest of cultural exchange. Now, even age does not matter. Members’ age ranges from the late 20s to the early 90s!

“We have Japanese and American members. You can see the diversity in our club and we’re proud of it,” Junko Kinjyo, the association’s Vice-president and official for over 20 years, told Japan Update. “Some of our former members told us that they still look at the clock at 11:00am on Mondays - which is the time of our OIWC meetings - even after they have left Okinawa” .

With over 250 members every year, a number that includes over 100 American members, the club surely enjoys conducting cross-cultural events monthly, and organizing occasional parties. At the charity bazaar on Monday, fifteen groups of Japanese and American members were selling various handmade crafts and baked goods to raise money for people in need. The club will donate the benefits to charity organizations on the island and elsewhere in the world. In last year alone, the club has given donations to Amerasian School, Camp Hansen Women Support Center in Okinawa, an orphanage in Kazakhstan, and a welfare association in Sri Lanka.

According to another longtime official of OIWC, Miyo Matayoshi, the popularity of their association can be simply analyzed by the timing of their meetings. Club meetings go from 11:00am to 1:00pm. So, many members, especially the housewives, have enough time to finish their morning routines and prepare supper for their families and still attend. That is, perhaps, one of the reasons why the club has survived for so long.

All interested in joining the Okinawa International Women’s Club should contact Junko Kinjyo @ (098) 862-0585.

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