CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – Humphreys Middle and High School students delivered a concert at Pyeongtaek station, March 25, alongside local students from Pyeongtaek. Through the musical performance, the children promoted the friendship between the local and Camp Humphreys communities.
As chairs and music stands were put in place, the small plaza soon drew an audience. The performance included movie and television scores from both cultures with loud applause following each number.
“After practicing for hours every week, it was amazing to perform with the rest of my peers from the orchestra at Pyeongtaek Station today,” said Jenna Reynolds, Humphreys High School student who participated in the performance. “Being able to immerse myself and my other friends from Humphreys in Korean culture and music, as well as become closer with teens our age, has been such a wonderful experience.”
The combined orchestra, called the Bell Youth Orchestra, consisted of 70 Korean and American school-aged children from Pyeongtaek and Camp Humphreys. The orchestra was established in 2022 to help Humphreys students build their resiliency through music and to exchange culture with local students in similar ages. While the majority of the American musicians are from Camp Humphreys, the orchestra also includes students form Osan Air Base and students who are homeschooled. Students from 17 local elementary and middle schools throughout Pyeongtaek make up the Korean portion of the orchestra.
The orchestra performed their first official performance in December 2022 at a local mall and has since regularly gathered to practiced for the next opportunity to show their harmony.
“I became more familiar with the American culture thanks to being in the orchestra with friends from Humphreys,” said Ha-Jeong Na, a fifth-grade student from Deok-Dong Elementary School. “I am so happy that I got to perform with them as they bring some instruments that we don’t have.”
The weekly practices not only provided time to improve their musical talent, but also a time to bong with members from the other countries, and to learn from each other, said June Lee, vice manager of the orchestra.
“The Korean students showed how to eat Korean snacks such as triangular gimbap and Korean-style toast,” said Lee. “American students also volunteered to teach basic English phrases to the elementary school members in smaller groups.”
Following the concert at Pyeongtaek Station, the orchestra was re-invited to perform at the station every two months. Additionally, the orchestra plans to perform again June 6, at Humphreys Central Elementary School.