Making new friends, building relationships
MANADO, Indonesia -- U.S. Marines and sailors with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 visited Sekolah Menengah Atas Negeri 1 High School in Manado, Indonesia, Nov. 4, 2016.
As part of a community relations event, the visit offered service members the opportunity to engage in cultural exchanges and build relationships within the local community.
“We haven’t been in Indonesia in 19 years and had an opportunity to go out to one of the local schools,” said Lt. Cmdr. Philip Park, command chaplain with Marine Aircraft Group 12. “Community relations events are important because they can soften the public’s view of the Marine Corps from physical interaction rather than something they may hear from the news.”
Upon arrival to the school, the Marines and sailors were greeted by the students with cheering and excitement.
“If I had to pick one word to describe the students as we walked in, I would say ‘electrifying’,” said Park. “It had a stadium-like feel, if you imagine your favorite sports team scoring and the crowd going wild; it was that kind of exhilarating experience for all of us.”
To begin the event, students were afforded the opportunity to ask the Marines and sailors questions. Later, Marines demonstrated Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques and Petty Officer 2nd Class Billy Dorn, a squadron corpsman with VMFA (AW) 225, showed the students how to apply a tourniquet on another service member.
The Marines and sailors then played basketball against the students, losing 32-26 after completing two games. Service members then intermixed with the students and played one more game before finishing the event.
“I enjoyed playing basketball and taking pictures with the students,” said Lance Cpl. Brenda Garcia, an avionics technician with VMFA (AW) 225. “The students are very friendly and it helps both of us build memories. Today helped me realize there are more things to do other than just work, and I am glad that I went . . . I feel like I really needed it.”
Finally, the Marines and sailors exchanged gifts with Deysie Lumowa, the school head mistress, showing each other’s appreciation.
Lumowa said the gifts will be put inside the school display so if any of the service members come back, they can be viewed as a memory.
“I am very happy knowing that there are many high schools in Manado and we were chosen to be visited by the U.S. Marines and sailors,” said Lumowa. “This helps foster the relationship between our two nations through the interaction and games held throughout the day. I look forward to having more Marines come to our school in the future to have events like this.”