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Hong Kong schools

Sailors eat mooncakes with schoolchildren as US supercarrier spends Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong

Twenty-five officers visit Po Kok Primary School during USS Ronald Reagan’s transit call in city

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 9:11pm

Eating mooncakes and making paper lanterns, sailors from the American supercarrier the USS Ronald Reagan celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with primary school pupils in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Twenty-five navy officers visited Po Kok Primary School in Happy Valley to give talks about their work and play games with pupils, on the second day of the vessel’s transit call in the city en route to South Korean waters for a joint naval drill.

On the day of a Chinese festival that signifies family reunion, some sailors said they felt homesick traversing the ocean and often made calls to family and friends at home.

One officer, Nicholas Marcantonio, had learned just three weeks ago that his wife – who is in Japan, where the fleet is currently based – was pregnant and had not yet had the chance to “give her a big hug”.

“It’s the first time I’m meeting children after finding out my wife’s pregnant,” the 28-year-old navy officer said. “It feels different. I now have tears in my eyes watching children’s movies ... Out of all the community service I’ve done, this is the most fun.”

Most of the sailors were trying festive delicacies like mooncakes and star fruit for the first time.

Marcantonio said he was surprised to see an egg yolk in a mooncake. He also found the shape and taste of the star fruit – a tropical fruit popular in Asia – to be novel.“[The officers] look very healthy and fit,” said Bidhan Rai, a sixth-grade pupil at Po Kok. “I’m very excited to meet them and learn about how to fix a plane.”

US Consul General Kurt Tong was among the visitors to the school, and said the navy officers were lucky to be visiting Hong Kong during a festival with “dramatic” events like the fire dragon dance.

When asked about the Las Vegas mass shooting last Sunday, in which 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured, Tong expressed sadness over the tragedy and said he felt sorry for the victims and their families.

Thousands of US Navy officers arrive in Hong Kong for USS Ronald Reagan port of call

“At this point, everyone’s focus is on helping the families of the victims,” the consul general said in response to questions about the gun ownership debates that the shooting had rekindled in the US.

The sailors said they would watch the traditional fire dragon dance in Tin Hau later on Wednesday and visit some other tourist attractions in the coming days.

To celebrate the festival, some sailors on board the USS Reagan filmed a video with greetings for the annual holiday. Some spoke in English, some in Cantonese.