CHANTHA BURI, Kingdom of Thailand --
Royal Thai, Malaysian, and U.S. Marines participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened a three-classroom school during a Cobra Gold 2011 engineering civil assistance project, Feb. 17.
The school was built by Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Unit, with the help of six Malaysian and eight Royal Thai Marines. The project took more than a month to complete.
“There was a team of eight Royal Thai Marines that we worked with,” said 1st Lt. Robert J. Jankowski, project officer in charge. “All of them were senior to us, and more technically proficient in areas which our Marines had never had any type of training in. We were able to learn a lot from them.”
The Marines were also able to work with some of the local villagers who came in to help install the plaster and perform other volunteer services.
In addition to working with foreign militaries and local villagers, Marines were also able to share with the children they were building the school for.
“It’s been awesome interacting with the children,” said Jankowski. “The language barrier was pretty difficult to work around because they didn’t speak a word of English, but after just a few short weeks, they know a lot of short sayings. These kids are remarkably polite, and very well mannered.”
One of the goals that the Marines of CLB-31 hope to accomplish by building this school, Jankowski added, was to create a better leaning environment for the children by allowing there to be fewer children in each classroom.
In the end, the Marines felt good about the work they did.
“This was a really rewarding project,” said Cpl. Conner N. Nodena, a combat engineer with CLB-31. “We got to talk with the children, work with the Thai and Malaysians; I hope we get to do this again.”
Thailand is one of the United States’ five major non-NATO treaty allies in the region, and their partnership has helped keep the region secure and stable.