Pacific Partnership 2011/USS Cleveland left Hawaii on April 5 with some very good contacts and friends acquired during two excellent discussions. The first took place on April 1 at the East-West Center (EWC), an internationally respected U.S.-based organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960. Commodore Wilson began a roundtable discussion with a group of experts from the EWC, and a number of graduate students and professors. He offered an overview of past and current missions, and then asked participants for their thoughts on the current mission. Since some of the attendants were from countries we will visit this year, including Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Micronesia, our PP11 contingent was especially attuned to their comments. In some cases, nationals of countries that Pacific Partnership visited in the past suggested things that are already part of the Pacific Partnership effort; for example, to serve remote populations. Lesson Learned: do a better job of informing local people of Pacific Partnership projects and locations. One of the graduate students determined that he would be home in Timor-Leste during our mission there June 14 - 25, and the Commodore quickly enlisted him to participate.
EWC is one of the oldest and most respected organizations focusing on Asia and the Pacific in Hawaii, and our time spent there was beneficial to us all. Following that discussion, we returned to the USS Cleveland and hosted a local group of social media journalists and photographers -- one of the newest groups on the scene, but with tremendous potential, as we have witnessed during world-changing events across North Africa and the Middle East. At dinner, I spoke at length with Neenz Faleafine, who has had a great deal of success in building on-line communities. Neenz expressed her belief that passion and community commitment were essential to be effective journalists and bloggers (her own passion was evident throughout our discussion). She also shared her expertise in using applications to organize Twitter, a challenge I find particularly daunting. Since she has around 15,000 contacts on Twitter, her advice was well-received. The group offered to help us spread the word (and pictures) about Pacific Partnership, and we hope to get together again when Cleveland returns to Hawaii in July.