Sevicemember visits S. Korean university
Stars and Stripes June 16, 2003
TAEGU, South Korea — As a South Korean university student majoring in American Studies, Hwang Kyung has an eager interest in all things American — its language, culture, history, politics, economy, TV shows and movies.
So Hwang, 21, was especially happy last Wednesday when she found herself listening to a young U.S. Army officer who visited the Keimyung University campus to talk about America’s cultural history.
The officer, 1st Lt. Andrea Delp, 27, is the 19th Theater Support Command’s deputy public affairs officer. Her visit was part of U.S. Forces Korea’s recently launched Good Neighbor Program.
It aims to build better relations between the U.S. military and South Korean people by fostering contacts with public officials, business leaders, journalists, clergy, educators, students and the South Korean military.
U.S. units around South Korea are responsible for carrying out the program in their respective regions.
“One of our objectives is an educator outreach program and interaction with university students,” said Maj. Andrew Mutter, the unit’s public affairs chief.
Delp, who majored in American Studies at Georgetown University, called her 90-minute talk “Visual Culture in the Fifties and Sixties; Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.” Before an audience of 50, most of them students, she talked about such abstract artists as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein.
“I didn’t really make any generalizations about American culture overall,” said Delp.
Instead, she hoped students, many of them American Studies majors, would find her topic absorbing.
But the subject was less important than the personal connection Delp hoped to make with the students. She wore civilian clothes and also talked about her personal background, including a battle with cancer at age 12.
“I wanted to give them a different side of soldiers, behind the uniform, so they could get to know me as a person,” Delp said.
“The more we get to bring students together with younger soldiers, the better. To reach the younger generation, they’re the ones that are going to be building the future of South Korea. They’re also the ones in the news, protesting against the United States, and I think it’s a group we need to interact with.”
Hwang thinks the Good Neighbor Program and servicemember visits are “absolutely” a good idea.
“I picked out some … interesting things. … Above all, she’d like to be close with us so she didn’t wear a uniform. Because she’d like to show herself just as an American, not the soldier in Korea. And from her speech, we learned … her thinking, her thought of life,” said Hwang.
“These kind of things could be the foundation of our knowledge about Americans. By talking with them and asking questions and answering … we can know each other.”
Delp’s visit “was wonderful,” said Huh Jung-myung, professor of American Studies at Keimyung University and the school’s director of international education.
“I didn’t even know that my students would love her this much … somebody who was so friendly and … very warmly close to them. By explaining how she grew up and where and how she got into … American Studies … that … made my students feel really close to her — ‘Oh, Americans also could be like one of us.’”
Mutter said the Army in Taegu would seek similar contacts with other area universities.