Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Armando Gonzales
JUFFAIR, Bahrain – Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) joined crewmembers from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to visit Bahrain’s American Cultural and Educational Center (ACEC) during a community service (COMSERVE) project Nov. 20.
ACEC is a U.S. sponsored program that offers Bahraini teens the opportunity to improve their English proficiency in the hopes of studying abroad.
The 30Thirty Sailors divided into four groups to and lead students in discussions topics ranging from personal customs to languages.
“They were shy at first,” said Yeoman Seaman Marcus Ederer. “But then we started asking them questions and they got more involved.”
Lt. Mario Murphy, Mobile Bay’s COMSERVE coordinator, said this effort gives the ACEC students the opportunity to interact with English-speaking Sailors, while at the same time giving Sailors the opportunity to learn another culture.
“It’s an experience you can’t get just by going out in town or going shopping,” said Ederer. “I felt like I was doing something important, which made me feel really good.”
In accordance with the fall season, the Sailors explained Thanksgiving traditions, arousing the curiosity of the students.
“The main questions they were asking was ‘why were we there?’? and ‘why were we not with our families?’” said Ederer. “It was kind of hard to explain that to them.”
Along with the Sailor’s difficulties in explaining personal cultures to anotherthe teens, came the newfound similarities present in both cultures.
Ederer explained that some of their holidays are similar to his own; especially one that he heard was like Halloween.
“They would do exactly what we do, go door-to-door getting candy,” he said.
“We would talk about some stuff and think ‘Oh well that’s just the same as us,’” said Ederer. “We do that too.”
Mobile Bay is deployed with the John C. Stennis strike group to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security corporation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.