Story & Photo by MC2 Eddie Harrison
Sailors from USS Pinckney (DDG 91) volunteered time to visit classrooms and play sports with students of the InternationalCommunitySchool in Singapore, Sept. 8, as part of a community service (COMSERV) project.
The 19 Pinckney Sailors arrived on campus and were greeted with waves and smiles from students as they made their way to meet with the principal, event coordinator, and staff.
“I think that anytime someone is in the armed forces of any kind or any branch, they are held pretty high up,” said Assistant Elementary Principal Marta Herring. “So for our kids to get a chance to meet and greet and see everyone in uniform and to just be able to find out what you guys do, they will be fascinated.”
Introductions were followed by a photo shoot as class after class waited in line for their turn to meet the Sailors. Handshakes were exchanged and high-fives were flying as children and Sailors greeted each other. “Smile, look over here, say cheese,” were some of the things heard as members of the staff tried to focus the children’s attention for the perfect shot.
Once finished, the volunteers wasted no time beginning the day’s events.
The group divided to maximize student involvement. Some Sailors changed into Navy P.T. gear and prepared for soccer, basketball, sprint racing and group stretching, while others visited classrooms to talk about their jobs, answer questions and read children’s books to the pre-school class. Questions ranged from, “Do you get sea sick?” to “What kind of missiles do you have on board?”
At the end of one class visit, Sailors spent time signing autographs. The Sailors were as grateful for interaction as the school children were.
“I have two kids of my own back home,” said volunteer, Operations Specialist 2nd Class Celeste Caldwell. “So just to get out there and play with the kids and see them smiling and having fun was awesome.”
As everyone wrapped up the events and changed back into their uniforms, the Sailors and some of the teachers went to the eating area to cool down, eat and have another chance to interact with the kids.
“They were so excited just to see the American faces, because some of them are actually from America; it was like a small taste of home,” said Caldwell. “I am hoping that we can do stuff like this at every single port we go to, because I think being able to interact with locals, ask them questions, them ask us questions, is pretty awesome.”
When lunch was finished, children could be seen giving hugs, giving high fives and thanking everyone for coming.
Before departing campus, the Sailors went into some of the classrooms and handed out command ball caps and coins, thanking the teachers and children for the chance to visit.
The InternationalcommunitySchool in Singapore has more than 400 students from pre-school to 12th-grade and from countries ranging from Singapore, Indonesia, China, Japans, the United States and Australia.
Pinckney, an Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer, is part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the western Pacific Ocean and Arabian Gulf.