Newport Coast Guard cutter hosts cultural exchange program

NEWPORT, R.I. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Willow, homeported here, hosted 77 Latin American and Chinese high school students aboard the cutter Wednesday.

The students were from the Pro American Educational and Cultural Exchange Program, an organization that promotes international good will through foreign exchange programs.

The students were given insight into military life as they met with the crew and toured the 225-foot buoy tender.

Crew members from every department talked to the students about the cutter, their jobs, and the Coast Guard in general.

Fireman Matthew Grady, a junior crew member stationed on Willow, discussed the use of the ship’s small boats and the crew’s quick response to emergencies.

“The students were amazed to learn we could launch a small boat and recover a man overboard in less than nine minutes,” he said.

As the students toured the ship and interacted with the crew, they learned many facets of shipboard life, especially the impact it has on families.

Surprised by the integration of females into the crew, they asked Petty Officer 3rd Class Marissa Massey many questions about unique challenges of being a female in the military and stationed on a cutter.

“It really was a cultural exchange,” said Massey. “It was great to have the opportunity to learn about their cultures while at the same time teaching them ours.”

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