CAMP HENRY, Daegu, Korea - The 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command hosted a closing ceremony for the 29th iteration of the Korean-American Friendship Circle that recognized and celebrated the accomplishments of Republic of Korea and U.S. KAFC sponsors and participants, July 13 here.
Participants of the program gathered in the Evergreen Community Club to hear opening remarks that officially kicked off the closing ceremony event.
"For over 60 years, we've had a rock solid ROK-US alliance," said Brig. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., commanding general, 19th ESC. "The ROK-US alliance is made stronger not only by what we do military to military and political to political, but definitely by what we do with the young generation that are going to follow us old people and increase and sustain this ROK-US alliance far into the future."
The KAFC program is a semester-long global friendship program. This particular iteration began in March. The program divides participants into a total of eight groups comprised of six students from 13 different Korean universities per team with one U.S. and ROK family sponsoring each team. While participating in the program, team members engaged in cultural exchanges and activities to help foster good relations and strengthen the ROK-US Alliance.
"The ROK-US alliance is an alliance with a 60 year history and the KAFC program will have its 30th iteration next cycle with over 2000 students having participated over 15 years," said Seonghoon Kim, ROK KAFC President. "I hope that the students will realize this history and spread traditional Korean culture and customs, while at the same time experience American culture. I hope they can become globalized citizens and become little diplomats bridging the gap between Korea and the U.S. while participating in the program."
During the awards ceremony, five KAFC students received recognition by earning the title of 'Student Ambassador' for their tremendous effort and accomplishments.
"I can't believe that the program is already over," said Wan Gon Kwak, a Youngnam University student participant who earned the 'Student Ambassador' title. "I didn't expect to earn a lot from the program when I initially joined, but both of my U.S. and Korean sponsors, Col. Jackson and Mr. Kim, treated me like family and my thoughts on the program became more positive in the end."
Leaders of the KAFC highlighted the significance the program has on its participants and the ROK-US alliance.
"Most bridges are not structures where you only travel across them once," said Col. Eric L. Jackson, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Support Command-Korea, U.S. KAFC President and a KAFC student sponsor. "When most bridges are built, they're built on good foundations, they're built out of solid material with people that are willing to take the risk. And the beauty about a bridge that is solid and built on a solid foundation, is that you can travel across that bridge multiple times. Never neglect the importance of this bridge building that you have witnessed over one semester. I encourage each of you to stay connected with your American host families and your Korean host families."
Work is already in progress to prepare for the next iteration of the KAFC program. Each participant can expect to gain new experiences that will continue to strengthen the ROK-US alliance which embodies the Katchi Kapshida, "We go together" spirit.