GYEONGGI PROVINCE, Republic of Korea - Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (rotational), graduated from the Head Start Program at Shinhan University Dec. 13.

The Head Start Program initially started in 2013, is an educational, cultural enrichment program with more than 1,700 Soldiers participating at Shinhan University under the full support of Gyeonggi Province and the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division.

"U.S. Soldiers, who are defending the security and peace of their allies in a foreign land are faced with the new challenge of adapting to Korean culture," said Mr. Lee, Dae Hong, dean of international affairs, Shinhan University. "The purpose of the Head Start Program is to offer the U.S. Soldiers an integrated experience of Korean culture and share historical awareness with Republic of Korea university students."

Shinhan University's focus is not only on the education, but continuing to strengthen the ROK-U.S. partnership.

"The greatest importance is ROK-U.S. cooperation," said Lee. "We need military cooperation, but we also need close and friendly civil relationships. I absolutely think this program is playing that kind of role."

Guest speaker, Maj. Anthony Clas, a native of Chicago, public affairs officer, 3rd ABCT, 1st AD, delivered powerful remarks to the graduates.

"Nelson Mandela once said, 'education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,'" said Clas. "I'm sure the experiences you've had throughout this program will have a vast return on investment during your time here amongst our ROK partners."

Pfc. Philip A. Ibbara, armor crewman, Company B, 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, 3ABCT, 1AD, Immokalee, Florida native, embraced the opportunity to learn from ROK peers and take away a new perspective on living in Korea.

"It's always good to try something new, because there's a lot to explore with Korean culture," said Ibbara. "As much as they learn from us, we can learn from them."