By Sgt. Jang Won-il, USAG Daegu Public AffairsJuly 30, 2008
CAMP CARROLL - What can the Army do for its host nation of Korea' That is one question which provoked USAG Daegu's initiatives on various Good Neighbor programs.
A good answer to that question would be to provide English education at nearby schools and institutions. It is a very effective way to facilitate a friendly ROK-U.S. interaction, especially at a time when Korean lawmakers, education experts, teachers and parents are eagerly searching for methods to improve students' English skills.
Every Wednesday afternoon, three U.S. Soldiers and three KATUSA Soldiers from 16th Medical Logistics Battalion, United States Army Garrison Daegu and Material Support Center-Korea visit Waegwan Joongang Elementary School, located in Seokjeon-Ri, Waegwan-Eup, to teach basic conversational English to students from third to sixth grade.
The English Education program has been running for many semesters and it is one of many friendship activities that Camp Carroll and Waegwan Elementary have been committed to. For years, the school had invited Soldiers to many school events such as field trips, sports events, annual student concerts, luncheons, farewell parties and national holiday ceremonies. Soldier instructors in return, provide students chances to experience American culture and try to come up with more fun class curricula for the students to enjoy, as well as improve their English skills.
July 16 the school prepared a small luncheon for the Soldiers to show its appreciation upon the end of another successful semester together.
"Thank you for all your hard work and keen interest in supporting our English education program," said the school's principal, Kim Won-pil. "By establishing a firm Good Neighbor relationship, our students will grow up to be citizens with a high sense of cultural awareness and pluralism."
Two U.S. Soldiers and three KATUSAs participated in celebration on the last day of the semester. They divided up into two groups, playing either kickball or dodge ball with the students. Despite the hot climate the Soldiers and students, who have become good friends over the past semester, made the best out of what was to be their last chance to spend time together before summer break.
After an hour of fun, everyone moved inside the cafeteria as Kim acknowledged the Camp Carroll instructors for their hard work, naming and thanking each individual who demonstrated responsibility for, and dedication to the English education program.
The presentation of gifts followed, and Soldiers were touched; especially by small gifts and letters prepared by the children. It is not easy to come back and meet the same people once a semester is over, since typically at the conclusion of each semester some Soldiers have to leave Korea, teachers may leave and some students will graduate. Not wanting to say goodbye, Soldiers and students shared e-mail addresses, took pictures and shook hands long after the day's ceremonies were over.
"Looking back, I've really enjoyed being part of this wonderful teaching program," said KATUSA instructor, Materiel Support Center-Korea, Cpl. Lee Soon-jae. "For me this was a unique experience and I feel proud of myself."
According to Camp Carroll's MSC-K/IMCOM/16th MEDLOG ROKA Staff Officer Capt. Cho Sang-jin, the two sides will continue to build a good relationship in the years to come.
"The relationship we have with Camp Carroll is priceless," Kim added. "I appreciate the fact that we are given opportunities to learn English from native speakers and also to introduce to them our own culture."