International spouses graduate from orientation program
From left, Aya Kondo, Tantri Rosalanti and Kulrumpar Suvarnsinghacej enjoy a reception after the graduation ceremony. (Air Force photo/Wendy Simonds)
by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs
7/15/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- A colorful fashion show and children's performances wrapped up the International Family Orientation Program, or IFOP, July 8.
"Thank you for bringing your wives and families so we can get to know them," said Jody Savoie, an IFOP volunteer and the emcee for the spouses' graduation.
The program was open to more than 60 spouses from about 40 countries at the International Officer School. At the graduation, they dressed in traditional clothes and beamed with pride as they shared stories.
Aya Kondo from Japan said her kimono weighed 10 pounds. Swati Singh and Seema Sinha from India wore saris made from five-and-a-half yards of fabric.
Sora Lee, Young Ae Song and Myung Jae Park from Korea wore accessories for luck and long life.
Karin Maylandt from Bavaria in Germany wore an apron knotted on the right, signifying she's married. (A knot on the left would indicate she's single.)
The husbands in the audience wore a variety of flight suits and camouflage patterns featuring national flags and patches.
"I hope that the program gave you a good start as to what it is like to live in America," said Col. Edward Brown, International Officer School commandant.
Brown handed out certificates, and each spouse received a friendship pin featuring the expression "friends forever."
More than 180 international and American children participated in the youth portion of IFOP.
"We had a great two weeks," said Laura Pate, the children's program coordinator. "We had the best time in the world being with you."
Youth took classes, enjoyed playtime and made friends. The children also went on field trips to the zoo and enjoyed bowling and roller skating.
For graduation, each age group designed an activity to present to their parents. The high schoolers offered an international trivia game complete with prizes. The seventh- and eighth-graders demonstrated teamwork through a cup game and sang "Welcome to Montgomery" in different languages.
The fifth- and sixth-graders performed a version of the Virginia reel, and the third- and fourth-graders performed the cupid shuffle.
First- and second-graders read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" from memory. The kindergarteners sang about the months and days of the weeks, and performed the song "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes."
IFOP is a two-week program helping international spouses and children acclimate to life in the United States. Participants learn about American grocery stores, culture and safety. They also get to meet other spouses and make new friends.