OLONGAPO CITY, Republic of the Philippines - Sailors and midshipmen from the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) visited approximately 35 students at the Center for Special Education at the Columbine College during a port visit to Subic Bay, June 13.
The Center for Special Education, sponsored by the Lotus Foundation, Inc., and funded by Lotus Hilfs Programme e. V., is one of the few schools aimed toward students with special needs.
The students, a majority of which were deaf, entertained the Sailors and midshipmen with several dances. Inabilities to communicate verbally were quickly overcome with pen and paper and some sign language.
"I truly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the students," said Seaman Aaron Montoya. "The students, who could not hear but, could make you laugh, gave you a greater perspective on life."
Emilia Sanchez, special education coordinator, and Norman Tuzon, retired Marine liaison volunteer, explained that the school educates children from early elementary school through college.
Currently, the school system in the Philippines is undergoing a transition. Previously, high school in the Philippines was four years from ages 12 to 16 following six years of elementary school. The program is moving to a K-12 system that mirrors the United States' school system. This resulted in many college students ages, younger than American counterparts.
Chosin is currently on deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.