Marines and Sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group visited Plaisance Secondary School to help clean up the area and interact with the students, Aug. 3, during a port visit to Seychelles.
“This will benefit our school a lot by making parts of the school more conducive for education by cleaning up the overgrown areas of the campus,” said Ghislaine Monthy, head teacher.
Eighteen service members volunteered to paint, cut grass, pick up trash, and have fun with the students during the visit.
“I’m always impressed with the Marines’ and Sailors’ eagerness to help out with the community relations projects,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Amedick, the ship’s chaplain for USS New York.
This was the first time U.S. forces have visited Plaisance Secondary School, which has been on the island for 20 years and has 681 students and 75 staff. This was also the first community relations project during the New York’s service members participated in since the ship embarked on its maiden voyage with the rest of the Iwo Jima ARG in late March.
“I’m all about helping people, showing them we care about them,” said Sgt. Michael Ferrell, Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th MEU. “I enjoyed this, it was fun. There were some really good people here, it was awesome.”
Ferrell and a fellow Marine, Cpl. Blake Devore, a communication technician with H&S Company said they liked meeting the students and working hard to clear and organize the school grounds.
“I’m not a very experienced painter, but I’m having fun doing this,” said Devore, who spent his morning painting classrooms.
It wasn’t all work and no play for the service members and the kids they were helping.
After much of the heavy lifting was complete the Marines and Sailors made time to play soccer and help beatbox, which is a sort of verbal percussion, during a rap contest among the students.
“This is the best part of my job, I always get to come out and help people wherever we go,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Erin Hernandez, religious program specialist. “It’s a good feeling helping others.”
The USS New York spent four days in the Seychelles, a group of tropical islands off the east coast of Africa, during a regularly scheduled port stop. Port stops are typical events for Marines and Sailors deployed as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Ready Group which allows the service members to experience a new country, conduct maintenance on the ship, and conduct resupply before pushing back out to sea.