An evening aboard the USS George Washington
There are some great perks for doing a Fulbright in Singapore, but nothing tops the extremely close relationship that we have with the local US Embassy. Throughout the year, there are a number of events that help to connect Singaporeans with Americans and to encourage further collaboration between the two nations. This also means that we get access to some amazing things, such as an American air craft carrier, like the USS George Washington.
The USS George Washington is based in Japan but makes stops throughout the region, including Singapore. They were first responders to the Philippines immediately after the destruction of Typoon Haiyan. They actually docked in Singapore last fall, and I was able to tour around then. However, the instructions regarding photography were a bit misleading, but this time I understood the directive - no photos allowed of the Singapore naval base, but photos of the US carrier were perfectly alright.
The coolest part of the ship, among many cool parts, was the elevator that moved from the flight deck to the hangar bay below. This massive platform is used to move aircraft and is incredible fast, which you can see below. It felt like riding the Tower of Terror, but more patriotic.
Among the esteemed guests were Mr. and Mrs. Ambassador, seen in the next photo. Kirk Wagar has done a tremendous job of engaging the local community and sharing American values with our Asian friends in a variety of ways.
This example of deploying the military strength of the country into an agent for positive international engagement was striking for me. Though the primary use of the aircraft carrier is to provide defense and security for the US, it also acts as a object of cooperation and even as a humanitarian outfit, as shown by their work in the Philippines.