HONG KONG – Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) took time out of their port visit to Hong Kong, China Apr. 18 to spend time giving back to their host community.
“The community relations visits were outstanding,” Command Chaplain, Lt. Larry Brant said. “We had one group visit the Ronald McDonald House and another group visited Buddhist Ching Kok Secondary school.”
At the Ronald McDonald House the volunteer Marines and Sailors were treated to a tour showing them how their hard work would help those living at the house.
“We met a child who was two months into his five month chemotherapy,” Chaplain Lt. Matthew Pickering said. “It was very evident that the Ronald McDonald House is built to foster community so that families can get a lot of support from each other.”
The group helped landscape and clean the kitchen but Cpl. Kyle Fujino felt it wasn’t the physical act that was important but the impression the volunteers were leaving behind.
“I think taking four hours out of my day to help people isn’t much,” Fujino said. “I think it’s great and while a lot of us don’t like to admit it I think it really touched a lot of us to be able to give something back. I think we made an impact and showed them that were here not just to party. We’re also here to help out.”
The volunteer group that visited Buddhist Ching Kok Secondary school feels they also got a chance to leave a lasting impression.
“I wanted to do something to try and help out to help people out if I can. I wanted to be able to talk to the students from the school and see if I could learn something from them and see if I could be helpful I think it was successful,” Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jamie Paich said. “I think the kids enjoyed it they had a good opportunity to practice their English. Hopefully they learned some good things from us to.”
During the school visit the service members and students played games challenging the students to test their English speaking ability. For the first game student ambassadors were given an item they would have to translate to retrieve from their team including pens, dollars, shoes and belts. Then students were individually paired with a Sailor or Marine who they needed to interview.
“Some of these students are the best English speaking students in the school and some other ones were invited because they’re pretty decent at English to but maybe not the best speakers,” English Teacher, John Carmey said. “It’s real good for these kids to have this interaction because they get almost zero exposure to English in Hong Kong. They might see it on TV but they just read the Chinese subtitles. Even their English listening class is a very unnatural computer voice. They learn a very stilted sounding English and they think that its normal. Exposure like this with one American talking to one student is good for them and they see that is not the way people really speak.”
The students and service members finished their time together with pictures and tea but their time together will have a lasting cultural exchange for both parties.
“It definitely boost the crews moral in that they feel good about giving back to the community good about giving to the host nation and it excites them to the prospects of being able to do community engagements once we go back to San Diego,” Brant said. They’re looking for more things to do once we go back to San Diego. And also to enjoy that feeling of what you feel when you help someone.”
Green Bay is part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group currently underway on a deployment with the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).