By Pfc. Lee Min-hwi (USAG-Yongsan)August 22, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea Korean elementary school students toured the Garrison Aug. 20, meeting American Soldiers and getting an up-close look at life on post.
This tour was part of U.S. Forces Korea Good Neighbor Program designed to foster better understanding and friendship between the U.S. and Korean people, said David McNally, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan spokesman and host for the tour.
"As often as possible, we try to energize our good neighbor program and bring our Korean neighbors on the installation to explain what we do here and let them know how important the mission is," McNally said. "It is a great opportunity for us to make a good first impression and to be an ambassador of America to these children."
The 28 students from Bulro Elementary School in Incheon visited the Yongsan Fire Station, where firefighters explained the importance of fire prevention and safety.
The children practiced an evacuation exercise as artificial smoke filled the hall outside the classroom. "I couldn't see anything in the smoke; it was really fun," said Yang Hee-ju, a fourth grader.
The group then took a bus tour of the installation, learning how Soldiers and their families live and work on post.
"It was interesting to know that some of the buildings are from 1950s after World War II," said Choi Ha-eun, a sixth grader. "This place is much like a small America!"
At the Arts and Crafts Center, the children looked closely at different kinds of pottery and listened to the center's manager, Kim Chae-su, as he explained how pottery is produced.
The children ended their day at the American Forces Network-Korea studios, where they watched how radio and television programs are created and broadcast.
"It was a lot of fun," said Chae Kwang-min, a fifth grader. "They were very kind to us and it was great to listen to them."
This tour provided the children an opportunity to experience a different culture, said Park Hyun-sim, a teacher who toured with the children.
"For these students, their understanding of another culture is largely based on what they see on television," he said. "They told me that it was great to see how friendly American people are."