Army-funded Headstart program to be revamped in Europe
July 29, 2011
An Army-funded program designed to teach newcomers posted overseas some language and cultural skills will be revamped and turned over to garrison communities to fund and run as they see fit in Europe, but will continue in Japan and South Korea for the time being, U.S. military officials said.
In Europe, the Headstart program will be replaced starting next week by Culture College, a course run by local Army Community Service branches.
“The Army is no longer in a financial position to pay for Headstart,” Jane Helfrich, ACS chief for IMCOM-Europe, said. “We are saving the government some money.”
The Headstart program included basic language skills, an overview of local culture and tips on making purchases and using public transportation off base. Headstart in Europe, which had been running for more than four decades, has been reduced in recent years from 10 to four days.
ACS has run similar programs for years, which lasted two to three days and targeted spouses and family members, Helfrich said.
Those courses will now be folded into Culture College, a program with general themes that could vary greatly from garrison to garrison, Helfrich said.
The move is expected to save Installation Command-Europe about $650,000 annually, Helfrich said.
The Army has no plans to discontinue the Headstart program in Japan, according to spokesman Dustin Perry for Camp Zama, home to U.S. Army Japan headquarters.
In South Korea, officials plan to look into the changes being made in Europe, but continue for now with the two programs offered for incoming soldiers, their families and Department of Defense civilians, according to Joe Sellen, chief of the 8th Army G9 Civil Military Operations Coordination Center.
All soldiers arriving in South Korea are required to attend a one-day Korean cultural awareness program, he said. Those headed for Area III are also given a more in-depth, three-day Korean Headstart Program taught by instructors at Pyeongtaek University.
Sellen said no matter the country, it is important for soldiers and their families relocating outside the U.S. “to learn about their host country’s history and culture … and some of the cultural differences.”
Stars and Stripes reporters Jon Rabiroff and Charlie Reed contributed to this story.