Emily Cowell – Saipan: “I Got to Go on a Submarine!”

Yesterday the 2nd and 3rd grade classes went on a field trip to the Saipan Submarine. You may have seen my Facebook post yesterday with a couple of pictures from the trip, but none of them capture the joy or beauty of the trip. To say that my kids and I were excited would be an understatement. My sister asked this morning who was more excited, me or them, and there was a good chance it was me!!! You don’t get a lot of opportunities in Miamisburg, Ohio to take your students on a submarine. I felt a little like Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus as we embarked on the journey.

You have to take a boat out to the sub and this is the first gentleman we met. He gave a 1 minute spiel to the kids on how to put on a life jacket in case of emergency. I could tell from the bewildered looks on my students faces that neither my kids nor I were assured that we would be able to do so in an emergency. I said a little prayer that this would not be necessary!


It’s funny how your perspective has to change when you live here and everything is sooooooo vastly different than the states. Back home I worry enough walking my students around the little downtown area where our school is located and crossing a couple of busy streets. Here I shepherd them into 4 different parents’ cars to get them down to the seaport and shepherd them onto a boat with barely any hesitation. When in Saipan…

Before I go any further let me tell you about the guys on the boat and submarine. I have never had so many calm, polite, kind, patient men to deal with. They never raised their voices, never said a word about how hyped and loud the kids were, nothing. Just super friendly and calm which really made me feel safe about the whole thing. I do have to say that all of the kids were exceptionally well behaved. But it was loud in that little sinking capsule… real loud…. but more on that in a minute.

It took about 10 minutes to get out to the sub. If you remember my post about Managaha Island back on Labor Day, the sub is in the same clear turquoise water. Really beautiful. It was as we were heading out on the open water that I fully realized one major mistake I had made. I wore and skirt and flowy top that day to school. Just standard school dress for me. And I was about to climb down into a sub on the open water on a very windy day. Oops! 🙂 Not my most intelligent moment. Luckily I was the first one on and last one off the submarine.


We climbed on board and set off. Again, the pictures don’t do it justice it at all. We went around the wreckage of an American plane that went down during the battle on Saipan in World War II and a sunken Japanese war ship.

Going around the ship was super cool because it was HUGE. I hear going out for a night scuba dive around these two wreck sites is really the best because most of the critters come out at night. One of the parents who came with us is a diver and she was telling us more details as we cruised along.

We also had a friendly scuba diver come and take our pictures while we were down there. His wife is a dental hygienist at the SDA clinic and he was kind enough to come out and take some pictures.

I had a little twinge of worry about feeling claustrophobic in the sub, but it was pretty roomy and there was AC – yay!!!

We safely emerged after about 40 minutes. All in all, a pretty fantastic day!


P.S. For most of the trip they played music with little breaks telling us what we were looking at. The music? Old school Peter Cetera Chicago. As I happily sang along to all of the songs, my student Will turns to me, “Miss, do you know these song?” Yeah, just a little, buddy.


This post was written by Emily Cowell who is serving as a 2nd grade teacher in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands through Adventist Volunteer Service and the NAD Office of Volunteer Ministries (HE SAID GO). It was originally posted on her blog on Dec. 2, 2016.

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