Daegu internship held up as model
Stars and Stripes May 7, 2008
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — An internship program between the Army in Daegu and a local university has been proposed as the model for the U.S. military throughout South Korea.
The program between Kyungpook National University and the U.S. Army Garrison Daegu is one of a few such programs within U.S. Forces Korea and the only one that affords students college credit for their work on USFK installations, said Elizabeth Pyon, USFK Good Neighbor Program coordinator.
The Army maintains the program with KNU under USFK’s Good Neighbor Program, which aims to foster improved relations between U.S. forces and the South Korean public.
USFK officials have recommended to USFK commander Gen. B.B. Bell that such a program be adopted at all major USFK installations on the peninsula, regardless of branch of service, Pyon said.
The exceptions would be any organizations where security restrictions would make hosting an internship program unworkable, she said.
The interns work in jobs with the Army’s public works department, the Daegu American School, and public affairs offices, for example.
Pyon said Bell “thought it was a great idea” at a community forum earlier this year and told his J-1 staff to research its adoption throughout USFK.
His staff concluded that installations should be “encouraged to proactively seek ways of implementing the program,” Pyon said.
A decision is expected within the next few months, she said. If adopted, it would probably take several months to a year for similar programs to be in place around the peninsula.
In 2003, in the wake of massive anti-U.S. demonstrations in South Korea, then USFK commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte started the Good Neighbor Program and ordered vigorous participation throughout USFK.
In 2004, KNU proposed having select students work as interns at Daegu-area installations for college credit. The program was launched in 2005, said Lorne Hwang, KNU’s assistant vice president, international affairs.
Students must give the Army 24 weeks of full-time work — at least 35 hours a week, for which KNU gives them 18 general credits, Hwang said.
“That’s a major difference” from other internship programs, said Pyon, one that benefits the military as well as the students.
“It is vital to how the actual operation is able to benefit from the interns because it means they can stay longer — six months,” Pyon said. “It means they can work full-time, eight hours a day, and it means that the students have an incentive to actually put forth effort and to stick with the program.”
About 80 KNU students have worked as interns with the Army since 2005.