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NEWS | Oct. 8, 2015

Closing the Gap: Soldiers Teach English in Korean Schools

By SSgt Heather A. Denby

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- The sounds of military boots can be heard walking through rows of desks in a South Korean middle school as student's hands fill the air to answer questions during their assigned English language class.

Fifteen Soldiers assigned to 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment visited students at Kwonsun Middle School September 23 to share their proficiency of conversational English and American culture. 

"I never expected to be in Korea teaching kids English," said Pvt. Brandon Forth, a Patriot launching station enhanced operator/maintainer with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6-52 ADA. 

At 20 years old, Forth graduated from high school nearly one year ago and has served in the U.S. Army for a few months, but he said the experience has made him proud to serve.

"It's rewarding to see how truly excited the students were to learn about something that we, as Soldiers, take for granted every day," said Forth. "We shared typical American foods with them and then played games to help them identify names and meanings of commonly-used words."

This kind of experience is unique to Soldiers of all rank that serve in South Korea.

"Where else can you go from sharing chai with Iraqi elders to edifying young South Korean adults in American culture," said 1st Sgt. Wayne Melville, the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery senior enlisted leader. Melville has served in the U.S. Army for 16 years and has completed four deployments. "It's just an incredible opportunity to interact with the community and for our Soldiers to make a positive impact in the lives of others."

The Soldiers of 6-52 ADA volunteer to provide instruction on conversational English monthly as part of the U.S. Forces -- Korea Good Neighbor Program. 

"Events within the community strengthen the relationships created between U.S. and Republic of Korea partners, which is why the Good Neighbor Program was established," said Tee Yong Mun, 6-52 ADA community relations officer and Good Neighbor Program coordinator.

"It is obvious that the children are excited to interact with U.S. Soldiers," he said. "The children are so cheerful in greeting our Soldiers and they are proud to share what they've learned after the Soldiers leave."

"Community engagement activities like these foster support of U.S. forces serving in Korea and bridge the gap between these two cultures," he said.
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