Formed by the Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL) Fleet & Family Support Center (FFSC) 2 ½ years ago, the Foreign Spouse Group was created to provide support and companionship to foreign spouses and family members, including children, who are acclimating to military life in the U.S.
“We’re really laid back,” said Cindy Roland, the work and family life specialist at FFSC. “Food is a really great way to get together. We’ve done potlucks and we really enjoy trying dishes from each others’ native countries. We try to get together at least quarterly.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 19, the group gathered for its first cookie exchange.
Members of the group not only hail from countries with U.S. Navy bases, such as the Philippines and Japan, but from all over the world. Chile, Scotland, Belize, Peru and Finland are just a few of the native countries of the group members.
Tiare Blanchard, who is originally from Chile, began volunteering at FFSC two years ago and is one of the founding members of the group.
“When I came here, I didn’t know anything about the United States,” Blanchard said. “I couldn’t speak English, but I began volunteering with Fleet & Family and they became my family. I learned English and got my driver's license.”
The members present at the cookie exchange agree that each others’ experiences help them cope and adjust to life in the United States. In addition to gathering for camaraderie, they teach one another common English dialogue.
A representative from the Fleet & Family Support Center is also present at each gathering providing information that is pertinent to foreign spouses, such as immigration laws and how to obtain credentials such as work permits and driver's licenses.
“We are here to point you in the right direction,” said Roland. “We help each other and check on each other.”
Learning foreign languages through the use of the computer program Rosetta Stone is also available at FFSC. Currently, they have software for learning English, German, French, Tagalog, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese in their computers and anyone who is interested in using them can do so at any time during business hours.
To learn more about the Foreign Spouse Group, follow Naval Air Station Lemoore FFSC on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (559) 998-4042.