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CA Soldiers to foster Asian partnerships

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:43PM October 10th, 2013

Moving to 11 different countries with her husband who served in the U.S. Army for 30 years, Patsy Surho’Connell said all five senses are needed to fully experience different world cultures.

Soldiers and family members of the newly activated 84th Civil Affairs Battalion had a chance to use them all as they were entertained with music and dance of Asian Pacific countries, educated with artifacts and sampled various cuisines during an activation ceremony reception Oct. 3 at the Family Resource Center on JBLM Lewis Main.

The cultural celebration was the first of several events between the center and the 84th CA Bn.

“This is a great opportunity for us to partner with (JBLM),” Surho’Connell said.

The group has been growing on JBLM under I Corps since Sept. 2012. Until the activation, Soldiers of the 84th CA Bn. have trained with the Asian Pacific Cultural Center. Exercises emphasized language training and ceremonies across the cultural spectrum of the region.

“We’re looking to get better at how to communicate and understand their cultural dynamics and traditions,” said Maj. Arnel David, executive officer of the 84th CA Bn.

The artifacts, meals, music and dance come from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, the Island of Samoa and the Philippines.

Small groups, usually eight civil affairs Soldiers, are programmed to serve on short missions to these countries.

“A lot of Soldiers will not go to all of these places,” said Capt. Mark Melchi, team leader of the Alpha Company of the 84th CA Bn. “This is a one-stop hop to learn about all of these places.”

84th CA Bn. Soldiers were able to get a sneak peak into the day-to-day basis while deployed for humanitarian missions and building partnerships between the Army and the nations of the Asian Pacific region.

“Bringing the Soldiers here at JBLM the beauty of other cultures is something we try to present at the command,” said commander Lt. Col. Dominic Kusumoto.

The Asian Pacific Cultural Center was formed in 1996 with like-minded JBLM community leaders, according to Surho’Connell. With her personal experience, she’s able to help guide Soldiers and other service members in understanding the cultures in the Asian Pacific region.

“Because of my experience of moving to 11 different countries, I’m able to appreciate and understand different countries and cultures,” she said.