Humphreys, Pyeongtaek students experience 'fun' at summer school
By Hong Seung-hui
USAG Humphreys Public Affairs
CAMP HUMPHREYS — For the second consecutive summer, American children assigned here were offered the chance to experience Korean culture firsthand, while Korean children experienced American culture – many for the first time – during the 2011 Korean-American Children’s Joint Summer School, during the first two weeks of August.
This event, sponsored by Pyeongtaek City and Gyeonggi Province and supported by the Pyeongtaek Cultural Center, was successful in 2010, so it was opened to more children this year.
About 150 students, divided into two five-day sessions, participated. That is more than twice the amount of participants compared to last year.
The program included taekwondo classes, making Korean traditional rice cakes, English class, visiting the National Museum in Seoul, touring the Hyangyo (a local Korean school during Chosun dynasty) and making Sotdae, a pole signifying prayer for a good harvest. Also, so the Korean students could see what life was like for American kids, they spent an afternoon here. First, they ate lunch at the Red Dragon Dining Facility and then got the chance to run it off over at Zoeckler Gym.
The Korean and American students took classes together. Although apprehensive on the first day, the children became friends easily later on.
Sean Carrigan, a veteran of the program, having participated in 2010 as well, said “I have friends, all boys, in my class. The only difference between American children and Korean children is the language only. Other than that, we are the same.”
Some of the programs allowed for parents to join in, especially while visiting the National Museum.
Carrigan’s grandmother, Suzanne Mese, who was visiting said, “Now I know why he loved this program. The museum was so helpful and educational for the children. And, this is a really good opportunity for American children to know how Koreans make food and live. Indeed, the dishes in the restaurant we visited were very delicious. Everything was excellent.”
Taking advantage of programs such as this will help the ever increasing population of Americans living here have more chances to make Korean friends. It is the same thing for Korean people.
Shin Hae-in, a sixth-grader at the Jang Dang Elementary School, made a good friend through this program.
“(Before) I have not had any opportunity to make an American friend,” she said. “Now, Alexa (an American girl) and I are good friends. The program is too short. I want to do this again.”
All of the students participated in a graduation ceremony on the final day, where they sang songs they learned during the week and did a taekwondo demonstration.
(Editor’s Note: The writer is an intern in the USAG Humphreys Public Affairs Office. She is a student at Namseol University, located in Choenan.)
U.S. Army photos by Peter Yu and Hong Seung-hui (Elisha)