July 25, 2011

By Airman 1st Class Haleigh Greer, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs
The Kaselehlie Press

July 12, POHNPEI, FSM - The team, composed of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and volunteers from participating non-governmental organizations Project HOPE and University of California, San Diego Pre- Dental Society, departed amphibious transport dock ship to interact with the children of Pohnpei.

'One world, many stories,' is the theme for this year's Library Camp at Pohnpei Public Library. More than 50 school-age children learned about this weeks' topic, North America, from the PP11 team.

"School is out for the summer, but some of the parents want their kids to stay active and continue learning. So they send them to library camp," said Lt. Phillip Ridley, Pacific Partnership 2011 Chaplain. "Here they are learning library skills, playing sports with each other, and learning about different parts of the world. Each child gets a 'passport,' and when they finish learning about a new country, they get a sticker to show they have completed that country."

Over the course of three days, Pacific Partnership team engaged in multiple activities with the children and had some fun while taking the time to teach.

"I feel that it was great experience for us and the kids as well," said Lt. Melinda Garcia, PP11's supply officer. "We played soccer, did arts and crafts, read to the children individually, and at the end we all came together to read stories to the entire group. It was a fun experience."

While the veterinarians, medical staff and engineers were treating local patients and building schools, sheds and bathroom facilities for the students of Pohnpei, the team of community service volunteers was able to build a foundation in a different and beneficial way.

"I think community relations projects are a great bonus on these missions," said Hanna Taylor, a registered nurse with Project HOPE. "The medical, engineering, and veterinary sites are important, but it's also nice for us to be able to interact with the local people on a personal level and show them what people in America are really like."

The PP11 members had the opportunity to work with Peace Corps volunteers from the United States at the library as well. These Peace Corps volunteers put together the library's first ever reading camp to spread values of peace and tolerance to the local communities of Micronesia.

"It's nice to see a different type of government organization like the Navy," Cori Jo Jahnsen, Peace Corps volunteer, said. "We didn't know a lot about Pacific Partnership, and they didn't know a lot about us. But it was nice to come together to learn from one another and achieve a common goal."

Additionally, this library was built by U.S. Navy Seabees in the late 1970s, and a team of Seabees will refurbish it beginning in August.

FSM is the fifth and final mission port for Pacific Partnership 2011, which has completed operations in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor- Leste. In four mission ports, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 36,000 patients, cared for more than 1,500 animals, conducted more than 40 community service projects and completed more than 20 engineering projects.

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Born out of the aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, Pacific Partnership began in 2006 and has gone to many countries in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, treated more than 240,000 patients, and continued to enhance interoperability with partner nations.