Scouting culture unifying
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Amid smiles and giggles, U.S. and Korean Girl Scouts gathered here this week to sing songs, eat cake and build friendships.
They met Monday evening in the Osan American Elementary School cafeteria, a gathering hosted by 50 Girl Scouts from the base community. They’re part of the USA Girl Scouts Overseas — West Pacific, which also has a scouting program at the Army’s Camp Humphreys.
The 18 Korean Girl Scouts were from Jisan Elementary School in Songtan, a district of Pyongtaek City outside this sprawling U.S. air base. Two of their scout leaders came along.
“This was the first time we’ve ever gotten together with the Korean Girl Scouts,” said Katie Bradeen, special events coordinator for the Osan/Camp Humphreys Girl Scouts program. “It was big.”
Though few could speak each other’s language, they managed just fine with the common words they knew, plus translation help from scout leaders and parents.
“For the American Girl Scouts, of course, it was good experience for them,” said Young-ju Hauter, host-nation coordinator with the U.S. scouts. “They were very excited to see the other nation’s Girl Scouts.
“And they heard the Korean Girl Scouts’ song. So it was a good opportunity, good experience for both the Korean and the American Girl Scouts. The Korean Girl Scouts … can speak basic greeting, so some of them practiced their English.”
They called the event “Poetry, Songs, and Cake.” The cake was in honor of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of American girl scouting, who started two troops in Savannah, Ga., in March 1912, Bradeen said. Low’s birthday is Oct. 31.
The gathering started around 6:30 p.m. and wrapped up around 8 p.m.
The Korean scouts sang a traditional Korean song, and “It sounded beautiful,” said Bradeen.
Some of the South Koreans were surprised that the air base wasn’t just about warfighting.
“Even [though] we live in the same city,” said Hauter, “it’s a very small city. But they had no idea. Some of them didn’t even know they had a school on base. They just thought it was a military base. When I told them they have a swimming pool and everything, they were, ‘Oh, really?’ They didn’t know.”