POCHEON, Republic of Korea - When people from different cultures and generations get together in a friendly social setting, a unique bond normally surfaces.
An impromptu visit by 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division Soldiers with residents of Kyeong-ro-dang, senior community center, started a new bond to carry forward Aug. 8. This is part of the ongoing U.S. Forces Korea Good Neighbor Program implemented in 2002.
For 16 years, the Good Neighbor Program has strived to promote friendship, trust, and mutual understanding between USFK service members and the Republic of Korea citizens through volunteer service and activities.
Members of the 2ID/RUCD civil military operations section, along with the division chaplain, presented the residents with several gifts from small fans to name-brand cookies. The gifts were a way to pay respect to elderly at the center.
"I'm really pleased that they came in person. This is the first time they ever came to sit with us. In the past the good neighbor program wasn't this intimate," said Mr. Sung-Chun Park, Chairperson of Kyeong-ro-dang, senior community center. "Mingling together and seeing the effort is beautiful. Their willingness to understand us is the most important thing," he added.
These ambassadors of the division were given a new perspective on the importance of the partnered nation bond.
"It was great to be able to get out in the community and meet some of the
wonderful people that live in our partner cities. Many of these residents
have firsthand experience of life here during the Korean War," said Maj. James Forsyth, deputy chief of civil military operations and a native of Fort Myers, Florida. "Their stories give true meaning to the ROK-U.S. alliance and bring a fresh perspective to the reason why the U.S. is in the ROK to this day," he added.
He also said that the civil military team within the combined division is developing a concept to expand visits to more community centers throughout the region.
At the end of the visit, the lead elderly resident smiled and stated in Hangul, "Mi casa es su casa," a globally known Spanish statement of endearment stating "my house is your house," signifying a solid bond has been created. One could say the Good Neighbor program is simply about bonding 2ID/RUCD and fellow USFK service members with the people of the Republic of Korea.