By Spc. Beth Lake, 2ID Public Affairs OfficeMay 15, 2007
The Soldiers approached the mats to begin making straw crafts and took off their shoes as a sign of respect. They sat down and worked together with their ROK Army partners to create baskets filled with hard-boiled eggs.
Making egg baskets was one of the events that 60 female Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division participated in May 8 for the 2007 Cultural Exchange Event for Women sponsored by Gyeonggi Province.
The Cultural Exchange Event for Women has been held twice a year since 2000, said Kim, Chang Hoon, who works in the Civil and Military Cooperation Section of Gyeonggi province The next event will occur in September.
The Gyeonggi Province Women and Ability Development Division invited the 3rd Corps ROK Army and 2ID Soldiers to attend the event. The two armies then selected Soldiers to attend. As of this cultural exchange, 2,555 ROK and U.S. Army Soldiers have participated in this exchange.
The day began at the Gyeonggi provincial building in Uijeongbu, where the female Soldiers from the U.S. were paired with female Soldiers from the ROK Army. The partners were given traditional Korean snacks, then traveled to the Buraemi Village. The Buraemi village is a 200-acre piece of land where those who live in the city can go to experience what it is like to live on a farm and enjoy nature.
While half the group dined on traditional Korean food, the other half made handkerchiefs with yellow soil and straw baskets filled with hard-boiled eggs.
"I liked making the handkerchiefs," said Spc. Tabitha Swan, a field artillery meteorologist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 210th Field Artillery Brigade.
Next, the group traveled to the 4th World Ceramic Biennale, where they experienced Korean dance and made pottery.
ROK Army Capt. Lee, Yong Ju, financial officer, 101st Infantry Brigade, said said the day was important because it fostered an environment of friendship among the Soldiers.
"When we think of the army, we think of physical things like war and combat," Lee said. "Having a friendly atmosphere like today makes both nations much more comfortable with each other."
For Swan, being able to see female Korean Soldiers was a highlight of the day.
"Today was special because I have male KATUSAs that I work with and get to know, but I never get to hang out with female Korean Soldiers," she said. "It was nice to bring the females together."
Before closing the day, the Soldiers attended a performance with modern and traditional Korean music. They also danced in a circle holding hands while the performers played in the center.
"I enjoyed being able to participate in the dancing," said Pfc. Carla Cordova, an awards clerk for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Division Special Troops Battalion. "Activities like this are important because they teach us about each other's culture. Everyone has a different culture and it is important to respect it."
Cordova also said the day was important because each country's military is different but ultimately the two are working together for the same cause.
"A day like today, reminds us why we are here," said Swan. "We are not just here for Korea, we are here for the people of Korea."