Hi, friends, English spoken here
CAMP RED CLOUD -- Although 16-year-old Lee So-hee attends high school in a city that's home to a big U.S. Army base, she'd felt fearful of meeting foreigners, let alone trying to speak to them in English.
But that changed in a matter of hours after Lee and 31 other 10-graders from the Dongducheon Foreign Language High School took part in a two-day "English Camp" hosted by the U.S. Army in Dongducheon July 24 and 25.
The students visited Camp Casey in Dongducheon and Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu for an up-close glimpse at life inside the installation gates, combined with a chance to use English.
"Before I went here I was afraid of meeting foreigners and speaking [with] foreigners," said Lee. "However, after this program, I could meet foreigner comfortable and my thinking was changes. The foreigners was very kind."
The U.S. Army in Area I hosts the English Camp visits periodically under the U.S. Forces Korea's Good Neighbor Program, which aims to foster good relations between the U.S. military and the South Korean public.
At Casey they toured the post fire station, visited the 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, and were shown around the Carey Physical Fitness Center. At Camp Red Cloud they toured the 2nd Infantry Division Museum.
Lunch both days was at Camp Casey, first at the Gateway Club, next day at the golf club.
There was also an informal discussion time at which the students got to exercise their conversational English skills by talking with U.S. Soldiers at the Camp Casey Community Activity Center.
"By learning English," Lee said, "I can understand the other cultures and I can speak with various cultures' people. And the English, studying English was very interest for me."
Student Hwang Ji-eun had a similar reaction.
"Before, I was so nervous to talk with foreigners, but with this experience I can more fluent. I can talk with foreigners more fluently so it was useful for me.
"Actually, it was the first time to visit the Army," said Hwang. "So, first I was so nervous. But the system is so good so I want to go here next time."
Besides the chance to improve English skills the program affords the students a look at a culture different from their own, said Shin Jae-ouck, one of two teachers who accompanied the students.
"So it's a wonderful chance to provide my students to motive their foreign language studying," said Shin.
The program finished with a dinner and awards ceremony at the Warrior's Club on Camp Casey.
There, students took their turn at the microphone giving a 30-second speech in English summing up their experience during the two days.
Each thereafter received a certificate of graduation, handed them by Lt. Col. Edward D. Eldridge, Commander, U.S. Army Garrison Casey, and their principal, Park Choon-woo.
Instead of only seeing Americans at a distance, such visits give the students a chance to meet and talk with them face-to-face, said Eldridge.
"It allows them to see, not imagine, what the Soldiers are doing, but come and actually participate with them on day-to-day activities," Eldridge said.
"They get to see, 'Hey, that's the guy that we don't ever get to interact with and that's the way they really are. They are real people too.' So it allows everybody to see each other as real people, for what they are," he said.
"So," said Eldridge, "not only is it helping the local community but it helps us to better understand the students as well."