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JBLM Spouses learn about America over food

free International Spouse Orientation and Cooking Demonstration event, Friday

Courtesy photo International spouses have an opportunity to attend free orientation sessions and cooking demonstrations to learn more about their new country Friday and others quarterly through the rest of the year.

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If you’re an international military spouse looking for ways to make your American transition a little easier and maybe learn some local and diverse cooking tips as well, you might want to look into the free International Spouse Orientation and Cooking Demonstration events planned at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Friday and again in coming months.

The spouse orientation is at Waller Hall, 2140 Liggett Ave., on Lewis Main, Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. and the next cooking demonstration is at the Family Resource Center, 4274 Idaho Ave., on Lewis Main, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Additional International Spouse Orientation sessions are May 11, Aug. 10 and Nov. 16 and Cooking demonstrations July 13 and Oct. 12.

The events are not new, as they previously fell under the multicultural spouse activities, however, there’s a new way of looking at the needs of international spouses and ways to help integrate them into their new homes, according to Monica Ulibarri, relocation readiness program manager for JBLM’s Directorate of Personnel and Family Readiness.

“We’ve been doing this forever, but the program has evolved and changed,” she said. “I think the orientation and cooking events will be very beneficial to spouses who are trying to integrate into the American life.”

The orientation sessions are held quarterly and allow participants to learn about American culture and laws, with explanations of legal rights from a legal team from McChord Field as well as about health insurance from a TRICARE representative and also about employment opportunities, programs and services available on the installation and within the Directorate of Personnel and Family Readiness, Ulibarri said.

“It’s a great way to get acclimated and ask questions about anything you don’t understand,” she said. “The spouses are given a platform to meet others in their similar situation and make friends while having support.”

As for the cooking demonstration events, in addition to learning to make some great food, participants will spend some time in a relaxed, casual environment, talking with other foreign-born spouses, making new friends and eating some fare from America or other countries.

The cooking demonstrations are taught from one spouse in the group who wants to share their cultural foods and ways to prepare them. Spouses learn new techniques to use while cooking and taste ingredients they may have never known about, Ulibarri said.

Reservations are required but, as long as space is available, can be made up to the day of the event.

To register for one of the upcoming orientations, visit or call, 253-967-3633.

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