Correctional Industries' Diversity Advisory Council collaborated with the Wellness Committee to bring an exciting event to CI Headquarters on March 16th. With the aim to share a cultural experience and represent diversity at work in a creative way, CI HQ employees were invited to a performance and workshop featuring Okinawan drums and dancing by Okinawa Kenjin Kai.
Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture of Japan with a distinct culture of its own. Their ancestors believed that the ocean is like a bridge to cross and meet people and make peace with all nations. Okinawa drums send forth a wish of peace to each and every person with their sincere appreciation in harmony with one another. Okinawa Kenjin Kai (OKK) Chijinshuu is a non-profit club of over 50 multi-generational participants, the youngest of whom is five years old. Participants perform traditional Okinawan Taiko (drums), Odori (Okinawa folk dance), Sanshin (guitar), Koto (stringed instrument), Ryu Kyuan (traditional Okinawa singing), and Ryukyu buyo (dance and instruments together). OKK perform at numerous community festivals and cultural events, most of which are open to the public at no-cost.
CI Diversity hosted the event to encourage learning and participation in activities from another culture. CI Wellness helped to promote the event as an opportunity to get up from work stations, share an activity with co-workers, and physically move at work. The workshop after the performance included dancing and drumming, and most of the 50+ CI employees took part in the rigorous, choreographed drumming and dancing. People laughed, smiled, and concentrated on their dance moves, drumming and footwork. Department of Corrections Acting Secretary Jody Becker-Green was on site to welcome the CI audience and Okinawa Kenjin Kai performers. Her presence enhanced the event and likely encouraged otherwise reluctant staff to participate.
Okinawa Kenjin Kai of Washington State is always looking for new talent. Practices are open to newcomers of all ages and levels who have a genuine interest in traditional Okinawa culture, music, dance, and are motivated to learn. Find out more about OKK on their Website or Facebook page. ■