BRISBANE, Australia — Sailors from the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked 7th Fleet staff and associated members of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD), shared in a cultural exchange with the Burringilly Aboriginal Corporation during a community service event July 21.
Burringilly Aboriginal Corporation is a nonprofit organization ran for the benefit of older and disabled individuals and their carers, among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of South Brisbane.
“I just want to say ‘thank you very much’ to all the Sailors for the lovely day because I know all the elders liked talking with them,” said Christine Fewquandie, manager of Burringilly Aboriginal Corporation. “We love to share our culture with our visitors, and likewise enjoy hearing about theirs. It’s fascinating to learn about where everyone has come from.”
Fewquandie shared that Burringilly means coming together, regardless of race, age or physical capability.
At the event, Aboriginal elderly, disabled and youth, interacted with the Sailors, exchanging remarks over food, observing traditional Aboriginal dances and participating in a reptile show.
“I think that we’re lucky to go to different places, experience different cultures and traditions and meet amazing people,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Dearra Horton, CSADD president. “And, I’m pretty sure that both sides have made lasting impressions. I know I’ll never forget them or the snakes.”
The U.S. 7th Fleet and Blue Ridge CSADD provided the majority of the personnel support and had a great showing among the Sailors who volunteered for the event.
“The importance of CSADD’s presence at these events is the ability to show that CSADD isn’t just about having fun, entertaining and so on,” Horton later continued. “We’re also about being in the community and helping out those around us, whoever they are.”
Children from the Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School,/ demonstrated traditional Aboriginal dances for the Sailors during the event. A few Sailors were even able to join in for a dance.
“The dances were great because we got a little taste of different dances from different tribes,” said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Ruby Harrington. “Most of the children were from the local tribe, but there were a few from tribes all over the country. They were really sweet children who were very proud of their culture and were excited about sharing that with us.”
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 36 years, recently conducted a port visit in Brisbane and is currently on patrol, strengthening and fostering relationships within the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.