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PATTAYA, Thailand – Sailors from submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) and Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Buffalo (SSN 715) taught conversational English skills and played games with students at the Mechai Pattana School during a community service project in Pattaya, Thailand Aug. 1.
Mechai Pattana School, founded by Thai philanthropist Mechai Viravaidya, serves children from rural areas and promotes environmental protection, education, poverty eradication, philanthropy, integrity, democracy, and gender equality.
"The idea is that children are immersed in contextual learning," said Mark Danaro, deputy director of the school. "We help them build independence, resilience, and creativity, and couple it with knowledge. Real world interactions and experiences such as with the U.S. Navy are just fantastic for their growth and development.
Part of their development involves English lessons, but as Danaro explained, many teachers don't speak English, so interactions with native speakers make a huge difference.
"Listening to the Sailors talk, and talking to them, really increases the children's confidence, said Danaro. "They begin to feel more comfortable, and you can see them start to make jokes and relax, and watch their self esteem rise."
Sailors spent the morning in small groups with students and members of the Royal Thai Navy, where they discussed their day-to-day lives, hobbies, and hopes for the future.
"My favorite part of the day was sitting with the kids and learning about each other," said Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Autumn Adams, assigned to USS Emory S. Land. "They were so interested about life aboard the ship, and we were equally interested in learning about their lives here in Thailand and experiencing a different culture."
USS Emory S. Land's Religious Ministries department worked together with the school and the Navy League of the United States Siam Council to coordinate the event. Ten USS Emory S. Land Sailors and six USS Buffalo Sailors volunteered their liberty time to socialize and play games with the children.
"This experience is educational for all of us, it's very interesting and a great opportunity to see the local community and the Thai culture in a way that we might not have the chance to experience otherwise," said Lt.j.g. Harish Jairam, assigned to Buffalo.
USS Emory S. Land is in Thailand conducting a coordinated tended mooring with USS Buffalo as part of a theater security cooperation and good will mission in the region. Emory S.Land, homeported in Diego Garcia, is on an extended deployment to Guam, conducting coordinated tended moorings and afloat maintenance in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations.
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