George Washington Sailors Reach Out to Youth in Hong Kong
HONG KONG - Sailors aboard the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) took time away from their Hong Kong port visit liberty Nov. 11 to participate in a pair of community service projects.
At the local Society for the Protection of Children (SPC), 15 Sailors spent the afternoon reading to Hong Kong children and helping to clean the SPC’s headquarters. Meanwhile, a group of 20 Sailors visited Ning Po College, where they interacted with young adults 14 to 18 years of age.
Those taking part in the SPC project are members of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD), an organization which was founded in 2008 with the goal of helping U.S. Sailors engage in recreational fun without alcohol.
"We organize events for our Sailors to have a good time,” said Avionics Technician First class Shamiya Allen, President of CSADD Chapter 73. “There’s no alcohol involved so we show them how to have fun without it.”
“We really appreciate the Navy coming out here and helping us,” said Harmony Lee, an SPC employee who helped to organize the project. “It’s seldom the children get to interact with foreigners, so it makes a big difference when they can read and work on their English.”
At Ni Pong College, Sailors played sports, games and even gave a few drum lessons to the students, followed by an opportunity to speak one-on-one on how to deal with hardship and failure. “It’s a great way for these students to interact with native English speakers,” said Susanna Auyeung, a full-time volunteer for Sunshine Action. “It helps to build an established sense of self-confidence in their ability to speak proper English.”
“The (community service projects) that we do allow everyone from the ship to give of themselves and they are very unique opportunities for all of us to share our experiences and what we’ve learned throughout our careers in the military,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Paul Hryhorenko, who organized the Ni Pong College visit.
“We had a great time reading to the children, it’s all about the kids,” Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Vincent Cooper from Smith Station, Al., said of the visit to SPC, which was established in 1926 to provide assistance and education to needy children in Hong Kong. “I’d definitely do it again, it’s good to give a little back.”
“It’s a little challenging because they aren’t very fluent in English and they’re just kids so they have a brief attention span, but it’s fun and they laugh,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Antoinette Wade from Western Salem, N.C.
After spending time with the children, Sailors at the SPC helped clean the building, scrubbing down walls and playground equipment.
The SPC and Ning Po College events were two of 14 community service projets taking place during George Washington’s ongoing visit to Hong Kong.
This was George Washington’s first time visiting Hong Kong since Oct., 2009. As the Navy’s only full-time forward deployed aircraft carrier, George Washington’s mission is to help ensure security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean and work with regional partners and allies of the United States.