Local university helping bridge the culture gap
PYEONGTAEK, Republic of Korea -- The 17th session of this year's Korean Head Start program took place here, Aug 29-31.
Since 2006, Pyeongtaek University has been running the Head Start Program for U.S. Soldiers stationed at Camp Humphreys, the 7th Air Force in Osan and other installations to help U.S. soldiers smoothly adjust to their new lives in the Republic of Korea through a unique orientation program. Under the program, they learn about the Korean language, history, politics, culture and society in general.
According to the Eighth Army Operations Order, this training program is mandatory for newly arriving Soldiers and authorized for Department of the Army civilians and family members to attend if spaces become available.
Sponsored by the City of Pyeongtaek and Gyeonggi Province, the program lasts for 3 days (Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) every week except for University vacations and Korean Holidays. It features classes on Korean History, government, and Korea-U.S. Relations, local life and culture, etiquette and basic Korean language. Classes are delivered in English by University professors. Moreover, everyday attendees get free lunch and on the last day, weather permitting, enjoy a field trip to Korean Folk Village where they can experience Korea's living history and culture.
New to Korea, Sgt. 1st Class Sabrina Norris, assigned to 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, finds the program to be very interesting and helpful. "It makes me to want to explore and learn more about Korea and its culture," she said.
Pyeongtaek University students accompanied Soldiers and family members during the field trip on Fridays. Local students share their knowledge and answer different questions about Korea and culture while practicing their English speaking skills and building new friendships.
William Jeong-U Kim, a sophomore studying American Studies at Pyeongtaek University who is starting his third semester in Korean Head Start program, said "Going to this field trip together creates a win-win situation for both Koreans and Americans. We, the students get a good opportunity to practice our English and simultaneously help American guests who are new to the country to learn about the Korean culture."
"They have an opportunity to try Korean food and enjoy traditional Korean performances. It is also a great chance for us to interact with each other. I find this program to be very interesting and I am always excited to participate," Kim added.
To sign up for the program, contact Head Start POC in your unit and provide your contact information to the Community Relations Officer, Kim, Kwak-hong by calling 010-8538-9485 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.