OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea –
Service members stationed in the Republic of Korea come and go, but one person provides a constant for those who want to become involved in the community.
Since 2006, Jim Dunnet, Korean American Partnership Association outreach coordinator, has provided service members with multiple avenues for volunteering.
"Through life's experiences I realized the key to life is not accumulation, but contribution," Dunnet said.
The purpose of KAPA is to strengthen the Korean and American alliance through participation in joint activities such as tours, festivals, trash pickup, conversational English and other events.
"This program is important because it helps Koreans and Americans to better understand each other's history, language and culture," Dunnet said.
Service members who are interested in volunteering in the community and strengthening the Korean and American alliance can join the events that KAPA hosts.
One of those is conversational English, where Korean students are brought on to Osan to learn English and Americans go off base to learn about the Korean community. This event is held the first Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Osan Troops for Trash is another option. Service members and civilians go on an 8-mile hike to pick up trash in the Songtan Entertainment District and on Buraksan Mountain. Troops for Trash is held on the second Saturday of every month from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Similar to Troops for Trash is Doolittle Dumpsters where participants clean up garbage at Osan's Doolittle Gate and do landscaping. This event is held the third Saturday of every month from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The fourth event is Humphrey's Troops for Trash. It consists of a 5-mile hike and cleaning the shopping area outside the walk-through gate of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, ROK. The group also goes to Castle Park to learn some of the history and culture of Korea. This event is held the fourth Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
These programs haves given Dunnet a greater appreciation of what Americans and Koreans have in common and their differences by providing a lending hand to the community.
"I have gained many friendships and a respect for Koreans and Americans who want a better world and lasting relationship throughout my time working in these programs," he said. "It has also given me a tremendous sense of esprit de corps and camaraderie between the two nations."