Camp Carroll opens gates to Korean students learning English
January 10, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — The U.S. Army in South Korea plans to welcome nearly 40 South Korean teenagers for a week of English conversation and a behind-the-walls look at life on area Army installations.
The daytime “English Camp” is set for Monday through Friday at Camp Carroll in Waegwan, with the Army planning to welcome 37 middle- and high- school students from area schools and nine Korean teachers of English.
U.S. soldiers will lead the students in informal English conversation sessions at Camp Carroll’s education center.
The Korean students also will meet American students at Taegu American School on Camp George in Taegu, about 40 minutes south of Waegwan. Both cities are in southeastern South Korea.
“They’ll get to practice their English with native speakers,” said Wilfred Plumley, Camp Carroll installation manager. “They’ll get to learn firsthand about American culture and ask numerous questions about this and that.
“One of the big goals is to get the students to open up and talk in English. Just casual conversation. Not any certain topic we want to teach them on. Just talk.”
And in the course of the week they’ll get a look at Camp Carroll’s barracks, post exchange, commissary, day care center, gym and other facilities.
During a Tuesday trip to Taegu there will be a barbecue lunch and a look at Black Hawk helicopters to be parked for display at Taegu’s Walker Army Heliport.
The Army is holding the camp under the Good Neighbor Program, an effort of the U.S. military in South Korea to take proactive measures in forging good relations with the Korean public.
“It’s a way you can impact a lot of people,” Plumley said of the camp.
The Army held a similar English camp last year in Taegu.
Plumley took part in it and remembers that many of the South Korean students started out with a bad impression of the U.S. military.
“The students, they have this impression that we’re hiding things behind our gates,” he said. “So if the gates are locked and they can’t come in, there’s ‘something to hide.’
“And I was surprised to hear last year that 90 percent of the kids who came to the camp either had negative feelings toward American soldiers or were afraid of American soldiers.”
But getting to meet Americans at the camp changed students’ opinions, Plumley said.
“They felt that American soldiers were just like anybody else. … It cut down a lot of barriers by bringing them on the post, showing them where we eat, where we live, where we do our recreation at.”
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Tellez, has volunteered to teach at this week’s camp.
“From what I’ve gathered, it’s mostly conversational English. I’ve been told that the students have some English experience so it will be my job just to go ahead and see how much English language comprehension they have, and kind of just go from there.
“I want to reach out, not just as myself, reach out as an American, and foster better relations with the host country,” Tellez said. “Just to give the people an understanding that we as Americans are generally a giving and a kind culture. We’re just often misunderstood in our ways.”
This week’s camp is the first one to be held at Camp Carroll, and base officials plan to hold one every January during Korean students’ winter recess.