CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea (Nov. 18, 2021) – When Lindsey Brown stepped off the tour bus in the late afternoon of Nov. 15, she and a group of other women gathered on the sidewalk to make plans. Voices blended together as they reciprocated how they were each glad to have met the others and ensured they would connect through exchanged phone numbers and social media accounts.
Brown and the others were part of a group of 40 military service members, civilians, and family members invited by the Korea-America Friendship Society to participate in a Yeoju ceramic tour. The tour was free and included transportation via bus, lunch, and pottery making.
“I’m into anything that helps me get to know Korea better,” said Brown, whose husband is Tech. Sgt. London Brown with the 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron. “I liked the fact that it was easy. You show up and they provide everything … You just can’t beat that."
Lisa Ku, a volunteer and translator with KAFS, said the event was organized to provide a chance for members of each culture to interact with one another.
“We want to have American military families know some Korean culture,” said Ku.
The day’s program included a trip to Silleuksa Temple in Yeoju, the only Buddhist temple in Korea positioned near a river. The group was divided into two and provided with a tour guide and an interpreter. During the tour, participants learned about the history of the temple and its significance in Korean culture before being released to walk the grounds on their own.
“I like how Korea is very intentional about wanting to make sure Americans enjoy their experience here,” said Brown. “In America we don’t really do things like this for foreigners. I just really appreciate it and admire the culture that Korea has for foreigners.”
The group then traveled to their pottery-making location where they enjoyed a Korean bento-box lunch before browsing a warehouse of pottery available for purchase. The pottery included items ranging from miniature pots with lids to two-foot vases and planters.
The pottery-making class occurred simultaneously with a ceramics-painting opportunity. Participants chose a table and decided between a heart-shaped bowl and a rectangular tray to paint. Using the provided supplies, each person was free to come up with their own design. Meanwhile, potter Kim Sang-lok invited participants, one-by-one, to his potter’s wheel where he assisted them in making their own small pot. The pots will be put in a kiln and then delivered to Camp Humphreys when they are complete.
As participants began their activity, the room transitioned from soft voices to conversation and laughter. While few in the group knew each other, strangers quickly evolved to new friends. Brown said she met one Korean citizen on the trip and has plans to get together with them. Additionally, she met a spouse who is new to Korea and hopes to spend time with her as well.
“That’s another thing I like about these trips,” said Brown. “Usually you meet someone. I think it’s really neat that we get to know other people.”
As the busses returned to Camp Humphreys, the organizers stood to express their thanks to those who participated in the exchange experience. They emphasized future events and invited all to join them again.
“I hope more people will know about (future events so) they can come and enjoy them,” said Ku. “Everyone is so friendly, I am happy to meet them.”