By Sgt. Raquel VillalonaApril 10, 2019
CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea -The month of April honors the unique strength and experiences inherent in military children serving at home and overseas.
The Camp Humphreys United Club Spouses' Association hosted the Read to Children event at elementary schools on Camp Humphreys, April 4, to celebrate the Month of the Military Child.
"One of the United Club's mission is to promote friendship and goodwill amongst our members through monthly programs and activities," said Kim McKean, Eldred, Pennsylvania native, Camp Humphreys United Club Spouses' Association honorary advisor. "This month our focus was on our military children. I had been approached by another military spouse, last fall, about this group of ladies that were visiting from the U.S. and their amazing story and book on Korean art and culture."
MaryJo P. Glover, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native; Debbie Kent, Great Falls, Virginia native; and Joan Suwalsky, Frederick, Maryland native, co-authors at Ginkgo Tree Tales, read their first book in a series of children's books, to the students.
"Their trip just happened to coincide with the beginning of the Month of the Military Child and we were fortunate enough to host these very talented authors at our luncheon and hear their story of friendship, love of Korea, and giving back to others," said McKean. "The authors had the opportunity to visit Humphreys West Elementary and Humphreys Central Elementary to share their book "I Bite the Bad Guys," a tale of friendship and giving back to others."
The students, most of which have parents serving with 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division, were enthused with the visit.
"The students were interactive, asked questions, and studied the illustrations," said Suwalsky. "They were so well-mannered and attentive."
Authors Kent and Suwalsky found inspiration to write books from their experiences adopting children born in Korea.
"We wanted to learn more and be able to teach our children about their culture," said Kent. "We think it's really important for children adopted internationally to know about their background."
The authors helped bridge the cultural gap on questions students had on their surrounding community.
"We could've spent all day there with the students engaging us," said Glover. "I hope that we imparted knowledge to them about this book and Korean culture. I tried to explain to them how lucky they are to have this experience."
The authors had previously read to students in the United States and tried to explain the animals illustrated in the book, unique to Korea.
"The students at Humphreys elementary schools were able to pick up on the experience much quicker," said Suwalsky. "They were able to point out South Korea on the map instantly."
Humphreys students find themselves in a unique cultural atmosphere that gives them a broader, first-hand view of the world.
"We really think there is a lot to learn about Korea," said Glover. "Why not take advantage of it and learn while you are here."