MANADO, Indonesia (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2012 is hosting Indonesian medical students aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) where they will provide an essential service by acting as Indonesian-English translators through June 15.
The Pelita Harapan and Klabat university students embarked Mercy June 1, and will also gain medical experience while sitting in on surgeries and shadowing nurses during their stay. During this time Mercy will be traversing between the Indonesian islands of Manado, Sangihe, Talaud and Siau.
Octika Erine, a student involved in the program, said the medical students will sleep, eat and work on Mercy alongside the crew of approximately 1,000 U.S. and partner nation military, non-governmental organizations and international agencies.
"The food on the ship is pretty good," Erine said. "The first day we had Mexican food, which was different than I am used to. Overall, the sleeping quarters aren't bad at all. It's all different, but it has been a very good experience."
Students are working in pediatrics, pre-operative and post-operative wards, as well as the casualty receiving and operating rooms where they gain important knowledge about their prospective careers.
"Standing in on surgeries on the ship has been a great learning experience for me," said Dennis Tjandrawubata, a medical student. "I have seen a lot of things I wouldn't normally get to see, as well as experience the different cultures of the doctors and nurses on the ship."
Christopher Audie said it has been great seeing the different countries working together for a great cause.
"Everyone has been wonderful so far," he said. "They have given us an opportunity to see things we wouldn't get to see, otherwise. We have got to experience multiple surgeries, and see many patients get treated."
Audie said students work well as translators because they provide a way to break the medical language barrier.
"It is very important that the patients know what the doctors are saying," said Audie. "It makes it much easier for the patients and doctors to understand each other so there are no misunderstandings during important surgeries. It has been beneficial being a part of the mission. It gives us a chance to not only learn, but help on the mission as well. I would like to thank everyone for letting us be a part of Pacific Partnership."
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
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For more news from Pacific Partnership 2012, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/pacpart12/.