By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Loni Lopez, USS George Washington Public Affairs
APRA HARBOR, Guam – Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its strike group took time away from their liberty in to participate in a community service project (COMSERV) at Wettengel Elementary School in Dededo.
Seventeen Sailors visited the school to share laughs and smiles with more than 740 children and to assist the facility in maintaining its grounds.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for our students and staff to be able to connect with military personnel,” said Evangeline Iglesias, principal of Wettengel Elementary school. “It is events like these that build stronger relationships and ties within our community.”
Some volunteering Sailors tutored students from grades Pre-K to 5th Grade, while other Sailors in the group helped by spending time with staff to clean the school grounds.
“I had the opportunity to spend time in a first grade class,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Yaney Crowley, from New York City. “The students are very smart, very active and very entertaining. The students and I worked together on math problems and had a lot of fun.”
Sailors finished up their project by sharing their experiences at the school and a lunch consisting of local delicacies with the staff.
“Interacting with the kids was my favorite part of the event,” said Navy Counselor 1st Class Michael Jimenez from Bronx, N.Y. “Seeing how genuinely happy they were to see us and being able to have that opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives through learning was just an incredible experience.”
Crowley expressed similar admiration for the students and hopes that the experience at the school will inspire the children to make positive influences in their community.
“Kids are the roots of the community,” said Crowley. “Making a positive impact while they are young and developing fosters an environment where they can return the same positivity back into their community.”
Before leaving, the Sailors were presented with certificates of appreciation by both the principal and assistant principal, and the staff received a portrait of the ship and warm thanks on behalf of George Washington.
“I think events like these have a tremendous impact on how the community sees us,” said Jimenez. “It shows that our mission extends past the sea and into the community where we foster, build and maintain relationships with our allies and partners. It provides a valuable opportunity to make an impact.”