Soldier teaches English to Gyeonggi Province employees
February 28, 2010
GYEONGGI PROVENCE - Three musicians from the 2nd Infantry Division Band gathered with more than 20 Gyeonggi Province government employees in the province office building conference room to begin the 2010 English conversation class hosted by the Korean provincial government's Military and Government Cooperation Division on the evening of Feb 24.
Spc. Elliot Chodkowski, a pianist with the 2ID Band, brought with him two other musicians, Spc. Steven Fulir, trumpet, Spc. Patricia Borgess, flute and piccolo. Borgess played both flute and piccolo acappella and Fulir played with Chodkowski accompanying him at the electric keyboard.
"I will play an excerpt from a piece written by Albert Franz Doppler (1821-1883)," Borgess said, "it is Fantasie Pastorale Hongroise Op. 26 for flute and orchestra. After that, I will play the famous piccolo solo from John Phillip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever."
When Chodkowski cannot come to teach the class, Borgess or Fulir will substitute, Chodkowski explained. "Patricia and Steven are no strangers to the students," he said. "I will back up Steven on 'My Funny Valentine,' originally from the 1937 show 'Babes in Arms' written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart."
"This is an inaugural event for the beginning of this year's class," Chodkowski said. "We always do this after the Lunar New Year. They take a break for a couple of months before we begin the next class. My focus last year was on basic writing like journal entries or letters."
This year Chodkowski will focus more on reading and storytelling. "Storytelling is sort of a theme for this year, I'm interested in sharing with them some of the famous stories in American heritage; at the same time I want them to share Korean traditional folk tales. This will provide a good way to learn about each other's culture," he said.
"The first reason we are having English classes here in the provincial office building is provincial civil servants want to learn English from a native speaker," said Yoo, Yong Cheol, Military and Government Cooperation Division speaker. "Soldiers of the 2ID Band want to teach English to civil servants."
Members of the Band began teaching English to civil servants in 2007, Yoo said. "This will be the fourth year," he said.
There is something that sets this English class apart from other classes available to civil servants.
"There are many English classes available from schools and institutes, but this class is unique," Yoo said. "Usually when you go to an English class there will be a textbook. This means the class will matriculate according to a textbook or program. This English conversation class has no text book and is governed by action and reaction. Chodkowski and the students make the class up as they go along." The first result the Gyeonggi Provincial Government expects to see is Soldiers developing a good relationship with provincial employees, Yoo explained.
"This will help them to understand Korea better," he said. "Civil servants will be able to understand the American perspective as well."
The civil servants will build a relationship with Soldiers that will last the entire year aside from the advantages of learning conversational English in practical circumstances.