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Sgt. Scott Ramey whistles like a bird while teaching South Korean children English during a volunteer fair in Dongducheon, South Korea, on Saturday. Twenty-one soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry volunteered to spend days on both weekends manning the booth on behalf of United Service Organizations.
Sgt. Scott Ramey whistles like a bird while teaching South Korean children English during a volunteer fair in Dongducheon, South Korea, on Saturday. Twenty-one soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry volunteered to spend days on both weekends manning the booth on behalf of United Service Organizations. (Erik Slavin / S&S)
Sgt. Scott Ramey whistles like a bird while teaching South Korean children English during a volunteer fair in Dongducheon, South Korea, on Saturday. Twenty-one soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry volunteered to spend days on both weekends manning the booth on behalf of United Service Organizations.
Sgt. Scott Ramey whistles like a bird while teaching South Korean children English during a volunteer fair in Dongducheon, South Korea, on Saturday. Twenty-one soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry volunteered to spend days on both weekends manning the booth on behalf of United Service Organizations. (Erik Slavin / S&S)
Staff Sgt. Bryan Stewart teaches South Korean children English during a volunteer fair in Dongducheon, South Korea, Saturday.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Stewart teaches South Korean children English during a volunteer fair in Dongducheon, South Korea, Saturday. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

DONGDUCHEON, South Korea — Several South Korean children crowd Sgt. Scott Ramey as he flips the pages of a book, eagerly awaiting the next animal picture.

It’s a dog.

“And what does a dog say?” Ramey asks in English.

“Mung mung!” shouts one of the older girls.

Both the children and 21 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry learned something new at the Gyeonggi Province Volunteer Expo in Dongducheon on Saturday: The children improved their English, and the soldiers learned that Korean roosters say “ppi-yak-ppi-yak.”

The soldiers volunteered their time on behalf of the Camp Casey United Service Organizations on Saturday and Sunday.

Soldiers on temporary duty orders from the Battle Combat Training Program’s Operations Group Charlie, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., also came to the fair and donated a 29-inch television and four 45-pound sacks of rice to both the Aeshin and My Home orphanages in Dongducheon.

Throughout the day, South Korean children greeted the soldiers with dozens of “Hello,” “Thank you” and “My name is…” phrases.

Some elementary school children understood full sentences spoken by the soldiers.

“The younger kids here are studying English, and they know a lot,” said Pvt. Jeremiah Colvin, of 2-9’s Delta Company.

After being stationed here for seven months, Colvin says he knows that some South Koreans see U.S. soldiers and think “trouble.”

The public relations value of participating in a volunteer fair wasn’t lost on him and other soldiers.

“A lot of kids get better impressions of soldiers this way,” Colvin said. “It’s also a better way to learn more English through conversation than just through a book. And it looks like the kids enjoy it.”

Volunteering and working with children also gave some soldiers a sense of normalcy that isn’t always easy to find at an unaccompanied post.

“We don’t get much interaction, with all the training we do,” Ramey said. “It’s nice to see a smile on a kid’s face … it kind of reminds you of back home.”

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