By Cpl. Lee Kyeong-min, Eighth Army Public Affairs officeDecember 5, 2016
Yongsan Garrison, South Korea - The 10th anniversary of the Korean Head-Start Program, hosted by Pyeongtaek University, was held at the Pierson Building at the university, Nov. 29, 2016.
The Korean Head Start program is a three-day course, conducted at Pyeongtaek University, that provides United States Forces Korea newcomers an opportunity to have an overall understanding of Korea and its local community by introducing them to a variety of elements which include Korean culture, history, politics, traditional etiquette and Korean language basics.
"The Korean Head-Start Program has been one of the major ways our Soldiers, families and civilians learn about your great nation and gain a deep appreciation of the gracious and generous culture," said Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal during his congratulatory address for the 10th anniversary of the Head-Start Program. "This three-day course has allowed us to strengthen not just our military partnership, but also Eighth Army's connection with the Korean people."
According to Vandal, Eighth Army and Pyeongtaek University will try to turn the program into a five-day program to cover more material and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the Korean culture to service members.
"About 15,200 people have completed the Head-Start course so far. A total of 12 professors and lots of assistants help us provide quality education to U.S. Soldiers and their families," Professor Kang Su-myung, Director of Research Center for USFK, said during the progress report of the Head-Start Program. "We are trying our best to expand this program as this has been tremendously helpful for a smooth relocation and adjustment for U.S. Soldiers."
He also mentioned approximately 60 Soldiers from Eighth Army and 30 Airmen from the Seventh Air Force come to Pyeongtaek University to participate in the program weekly.
The number of participants is expected to increase rapidly in 2017 and 2018 when USFK transitions and relocates to Pyeongtaek.
"This program contains a lot of useful information that USFK service members will actually need in order to adjust to Korea and be a part of the local community," said Professor Yun Ji-won, Chief of Institute for North and South Korea Studies.
Additionally, she emphasized the USFK service members were really satisfied learning about the causes for the national division, the current state of Korea and their roles in the ROK-U.S. alliance.
At the end of the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Vandal presented Certificates of Appreciation to four awardees and Lee Pil-jae, President of Pyeongtaek University, presented plaques of appreciation to 10 awardees for their dedication and effort to the Head-Start Program.