BALI, Indonesia - Sailors from the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and Amphibious Squadron 11 participated in a discussion panel with students from Mahendradatta University in Bali, Indonesia Nov. 21.
The panel gave Sailors the opportunity to answer questions about their daily lives aboard a U.S. Navy ship. It also allowed them to experience Indonesian culture first hand through interaction with the students.
"The panel discussion was a really good experience," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Samuel Brown. "The university went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and I thought the discussion was very engaging and informative."
Students from the university asked the group a range of questions about Navy life, from how realistic Hollywood movies were depicting the Navy to what made each Sailor want to join.
"I wanted to travel," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Kevin Lorette. "I've been to a lot of places and it's been really exciting.
I know a lot of people who are jealous of some of the places that I have gotten to go because of the Navy."
The Sailors also discussed some of the similarities between themselves and the Indonesian students in attendance at the panel.
"At the end of the day, we are just like you," said Chief Fire Controlman Ken Ryan. "We work hard to take care of our families, and when we are off duty, we enjoy doing fun things like going out to the beach, going surfing and seeing all of the wonderful things that Bali has to offer."
The university, which was founded by the first Indonesian president, is the oldest private university in Bali and currently has approximately 1,000 students enrolled.
Prior to anchoring of the coast of Bali, Essex embarked four officers from the Indonesian navy, marine corps and air force to serve as liaison officers to build relationships and exchange ideas about how the two militaries could work together in the future.
Essex, Amphibious Squadron 11 and the guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) are part of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group and are currently anchored off the coast of Bali, Indonesia for a port visit. The group reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.