By Lee, Jeong-hee, USAG Humphreys Public AffairsMarch 23, 2017
CAMP HUMPHREYS, Korea -- Humphreys High School students made new friends and learned about Korean culture on March 21 when their school hosted students from Korea Tourism Senior High School in Pyeongtaek during LinguaFest 2017.
LinguaFest is a language-immersion experience that exposes students to foreign languages and cultures. The Department of Defense Educational Activity Pacific Region and the Pyeongtaek International Exchange Foundation co-hosted this program and almost 200 students participated. The Humphreys event ran March 19-23.
This year's LinguaFest was the first that Korea and Camp Humphreys hosted, for the last seven years the fests have been in Japan. Humphreys High School invited American students from Japan, Guam and Korean students in Pyeongtaek.
There were six language groups that students chose as their target language: English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and French.
"If you take Spanish, you're only allowed to speak Spanish during the week, in the classroom, outside, wherever," said Lorretta Eng, a DoDEA Instructional Systems Specialist. "The students can communicate with their target language. We give them a lot of exposure to use the language that they are learning. And also they can learn about the country's culture. So they can compare."
During the event, Korean and American students had a dance party in Humphreys High School in the early evening and danced to songs from each country. American students danced to the Korean Pop song "Gangnam Style" by Psy and soon the Korean students joined them.
At first the Korean students looked shy when American students called them to dance but soon they warmed.
"I think that they are all pretty. I can't take my eyes off them," said Yu, Jeong-Hyeon, Korea Tourism Senior High School Second grade student.
"These activities can make our relationships closer. I think that we really didn't have an opportunity like this event; there's not enough time to get along with all of them. That's really sad but it was good," Yu said. "I'd love to join this program if I have a chance in the future. It was very impressive because I could experience all the cultures in our school."
Christina Duggans, a Humphreys High School ninth grader, enjoyed LinguaFest.
"It was great," she said over and over.
Duggans said LinguaFest gave teenagers the opportunity to learn about and understand the difference between cultures.
"It's not only good for learning one language but it also helps to learn multiple other languages. I would love to do this next year if I can because it was cool to see all the different cultures come together," Duggans said.
It seemed difficult for students from two different cultures to get along but Lingua Fest made them one. PIEF supported DoDEA during this program and played a huge role in beginning a relationship between American and Korean students.
Woo, Chea-Hyeon, who works at PIEF, said living in Pyeongtaek provides an opportunity for Korean people to meet Americans and for them to learn about each other.
"Actually we don't have enough chances for programs like this. An interesting feature of Pyeongtaek is that we can meet American Soldiers near here," Woo said. "I hope that Soldiers' children and Korean students can be good friends to each other beyond language or culture."