Culture, exposure and camarederie aboard the Logos Hope
By Jude Toyat
With a multicultural crew and staff of around 400 volunteers working to bring knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world, the Logos Hope berthed at the Sim Kheng Hong port in Pending here since April 1 is more than just a floating book store.
Apart from promoting international understanding through cultural exchange programmes, community service initiatives, and floating book fairs, the ship provides volunteers the opportunity to develop practical and leadership skills through a wide variety of activities in its unique cross-cultural environment.
According to Gan Sui Ji, 33, from Penang, the opportunity to be part of Logos Hope was a platform for her to give back to the community and serve people.
“I had been working as a medical doctor for seven years in Singapore, and now I feel it is time for me to give back, a time to perform charity work by serving the people here,” she said when interviewed by The Borneo Post SEEDS.
This is her first visit with the Logos Hope after being on board the ship for nearly a month serving as the ship’s only medical doctor on board.
“I am responsible to take care of all the crewmembers and deal with injuries most of the time. Since all of us here are still young, it is rare to see major illnesses like diabetes, kidney failures, or heart problems, which is different than working in the hospital where I mostly encounter elderly illnesses. That is the difference between medical care in the ship versus the hospital,” she added.
Her commitment with Logos Hope is only for four months before she returns to work in Singapore, after which she will be replaced by another medical doctor.
Currently, there are only two Malaysian volunteers on board. When asked why there seemed to be less Asians compared to their European counterparts, she opined that it was a matter of cultural differences.
“As Asians, we are more of a career-minded people. We want to get out studies completed and have a career. On the other hand, the European have a more adventurous spirit, and that is why most of the times we do not have many Asians, especially Malaysians on board the ship.
“We hope that we can deliver the message that, by coming here, you can have more life experiences and mature as a person. In fact, I can see that lots of people are doing volunteering jobs here in Malaysia, but only for the short term. Being on the Logos Hope, it is more of a long-term commitment,” she added.
She hopes to teach her foreign colleagues on board more about Malaysian culture, the people and the nation.
Meanwhile, for veterinarian Castro Samuel, 27, from Mexico, his interest in joining Logos Hope was sparked by his father, who was also a volunteer on the ship 40 years ago.
“My father was in the first ship 40 years ago. I grew up listening to stories of the first ship ever since I was a kid and from there, I had always wanted to do something similar to my dad,” he said.
Castro has been volunteering with Logos Hope for one-and-a-half years now, which is no hardship for this booklover.
“My parents own a bookshop back in Mexico and I grew up with books. I love everything about books, from the smell of them to seeing people from all different nationalities coming to read various kinds of books available here,” Castro, who is also the bookfair manager, added.
Castro worked for eight months as a veterinarian in his hometown in Mexico before joining the Logos Hope. “As a matter of fact, I wanted to join when I was 18 years old and just a fresh high school graduate. Unfortunately, my mother told me to study something first and then I can do whatever I want, and I chose to study and become a vet as I am always fond of medicine and animals.”
Castro, who is one of the 50 Latin American volunteers on board added that this was his first visit to Malaysia and he hoped to expose the people of Kuching to his Latin American culture. “I heard that Malaysians don’t really see lots of Latinos around here so for me, it is indeed a privilege to be here as part of the Latin American culture and just show them that we are friendly and loud. I also love the warm weather here.”
For American Will Bailey, 21, volunteering with the Logos Hope is just an amazing opportunity for him to be close with the local communities and help the needy. The high school graduate has been with the Logos Hope for two years now.
“By being a volunteer here, I want to get the experience travelling all around the world, getting to know the local people and experiencing different cultures, and also, to learn a lot about myself and about God and how I can serve Him through volunteering,” Will said.
Being one of the eight event coordinators on the ship, Will is in charge of events in this visit, including the Latino Café, a school visit for primary school students and welcoming the committee members of the Logos Hope.
“Being here for the second time, I memorised everything so it was cool to see the same port again. I am really excited to be here again and as I can remember, the last time I was here the food was amazing and the people are also really hospitable, I met couple of friends here and I am excited to meet them again,” added Will.
Having been with the Logos Hope visiting 16 countries, Will has a lot to share.
“I had the opportunity to visit Maldives where we stayed there for three days and it was just amazing to see the small island and experience the culture of about 100,000 people living in that island which I can just run around like 30 minutes. It was just incredible.”
Above all, what he really wanted to show throughout this travels was his spirit of generosity. “I come from the southern parts of the United States, and over there, the people are known for their hospitality. I just want to be generous to others and love the people, and that is just want I want to bring.”
Will plans to further his studies in social business or biblical studies after his time with the Logos Hope ended for another one year.
“I am more interested in social business that studies businesses, mostly non-profit, business that helps people,” he added.
It is amazing to know that all the crewmembers can work together and respect one another although they came from different cultural backgrounds and countries. It also provides valuable opportunities for them to learn new skills and develop their own characters.
For those who wish to visit the book fair or get to know more of the crew members on board the Logos Hope, opening hours starts from 2pm to 9.30pm (Mondays and Tuesdays), 10am to 9.30pm (Wednesdays and Saturdays), and 1pm to 9.30pm (Sundays).
The entrance pass for boarding the Logos Hope are priced at RM1 per person (adult), and free for children 12 years and below provided to be accompanied by an adult.
Don’t miss out on the various events like the International Music Night happening on April 26, an event not to be missed especially for music lovers, and the Open Ship event on April 19, for great opportunities to see and learn more about the ship and her crew.
Other cultural events that will be taking place on-board are the British Evening Tea Time on April 17. Don’t miss the chance to interact with some of the Latin and British crewmembers on board. Tickets are priced at RM5 each for these events and are available for purchase at the bookfair.