Sunday, March 1, 2009

Perspective from a Servant

The following entry is from a Sailor who participated in one of the Community Relations events during the USS Boxer’s port visit in Phuket.

"When it was confirmed that we were going to Thailand I was excited to see the southern part of Asia. The ship anchored a forty-five minute ferry ride distance from land and a forty minute MWR bus ride followed to Patong Beach, Phuket. We had already been to Hawaii and Guam and nothing compared to this environment. It was surreal to eat a restaurant, order Thai food and say, “We are eating Thai food in Thailand.” It may seem a little corny, but a group had eaten in a Thai restaurant in Guam a few weeks earlier. This was the “real thing.”

This was our first foreign port and the people and culture had my curiosity brewing. One of the greatest opportunities to go beyond the tourism of any foreign port is through a community relations project (ComRel). The Boxer Chaplains organized four ComRels for the port, and I chose to go to the Thalong National Museum. It was hard to choose because they also had two primary schools and one daycare center. All seemed to have chipping and painting jobs but I thought it would be nice to see a museum and help the people in the same shot.

The morning started with a 0615 muster in the hangar bay which was pretty early for a day off. The day started gaining momentum as we hopped on the ferry, rode the ComRel bus for thirty minutes and arrived at the museum. When we got off the bus, my first impression of the museum was that it was professionally constructed, a little shabby on the grounds and had some apparent need of paint maintenance. The people were the nicest people you would ever meet, but trying to communicate to them was a challenge. “Toilet” did not translate and trying to explain, well, you can see where that would lead. Thankfully, we had an English speaking coordinator who supplied us with everything we needed to do the job, including directions to the toilet. We chipped and painted in different locations until 1230, and then they provided some Thai food and some entertainment to cap off the events of the day. The food was awesome. I’m a picky eater, but this stuff was good. The entertainment portion was interesting, because it included Thai dancers and three volunteers from our group. I was one of them. After they danced these graceful moves in very colorful Asian costumes, they asked us to try and join them. I looked like a goof-ball but it was definitely something I will always remember.

This was my first foreign-port ComRel, and I can see why so many shipboard personnel fight to beat the quotas for sign-up. I believe it helps any soul to see how different cultures live in their environment. It creates a broader frame of reference to how blessed we are to live in America. Also, the culture evidences the most important physical blessing of all. This one blessing seems to magnify itself in these cultures and even more so when material things are not the focus of daily life. The world shares a common blessing, and that is family. ComRels make you count your blessings, but they also create the satisfaction of helping someone in need. It felt so good to spend my time not only drinking in the culture of the people but making a difference in their lives that neither those we helped nor I will ever forget. I definitely look forward to signing up for the next ComRel event. Semper Fi."

-- An anonymous Sailor


  1. Thanks for writing this and sending us news starved moms some info about what been going on with the 13th!


  2. Hello
    It has a nice blog.
    Sorry not write more, but my English is bad writing.
    A hug from my country, Portugal