Despite the economic prosperity that is enjoyed by South Korea, it is still a nation that is still unsettled politically, since there is the constant threat from its closest neighbor, North Korea. That is why aside from the South Korean Army, there is continued presence of the American soldiers in the area. In Dongducheon, a city that lies below the DMZ close to the Soyosan Mountain, the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army have lived close to the locals for over 60 years.
Mutual concern for each other
This fact had caused the American soldiers and the locals to develop a mutual caring for each other and to look out for each other’s welfare. Always thankful for the warm treatment they receive from the locals, the members of the 210th Field Artillery Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division participate actively in various outreach programs. The Korean and American English Village program is only one of the remarkable and continuing activities the U.S. Army conducts in the area.
English language program
Select members of the U.S. Army volunteer for the program that pairs soldiers with local members of the community who want to improve and be confident in their conversational English language skills. The yearlong course for 2015 was launched early in the week with the English Village hosting the annual opening ceremony at the Dongducheon Volunteer Center. Present at the opening ceremony was Oh Sea Chang, the city mayor, who presented awards to outstanding volunteers, Pfc. Brent A. Francis and Korean Army Cpl. Song, Gun Woo. They were distinguished for their dedication in promoting English language learning in the community.
Being stationed in South Korea was the first duty assignment for Pfc. Brent A. Francis, who hails from Miami. It was also his first time to travel outside the United States. He found it a great experience to be able to teach his language to the community and learning the Korean language and culture first hand as well. He believes that volunteering in such outreach programs should be done by soldiers because it brings them closer to the community and it promotes good will.
Speaking through a translator, Mayor Oh said that more multicultural families are coming to Dongducheon as more soldiers are moving to their community from Camp Casey. As such the English Village of Dongducheon will be quite busy with their English classes that are held in the evenings of Tuesday and Thursday.
According to the Deputy Commanding Officer for the 210th FA Brigade, Lt. Col. Timothy D. Labahn, the English language classes, kimchi making and river cleanup are just some of the ways that the American soldiers and the local community form and renew their alliance.