September 23, 2013
By Cpl. Kim Han-byeol (2nd ID)
There are programs offered to U.S. Soldiers stationed here that teaches them about Korea, their host country. However, it is not very common for Korean Augmentation to the United States Army Soldiers to study about English and American culture.
The 70th Brigade Support Battalion, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, offers the opportunity for KATUSAs to learn about American culture.
This English class is held every Wednesday afternoon in the Casey Education Center with two 90-minute classes. KATUSAs are able to learn English to better understand and utilize English to communicate better with Americans.
"KATUSAs already possess a solid knowledge in English fundamentals like vocabulary and grammar but often lack the experience or opportunity to practice those skills in context," said Kandida Gendron, the teacher of the class and the spouse of Maj. Wayne Gendron, 70th BSB operations officer. "A major goal of this class is to provide them that opportunity."
Gendron has both a bachelor and masters in English. She has also taught English in the United States. Most recently, she taught rhetoric and composition classes at New Mexico State University. With her abilities, she wanted to help the people in Korea and especially KATUSAs.
"As guests in this country, I believe it is our responsibility to give back to our host country whenever and wherever we can," Gendron said. "So utilizing my experience, as an English teacher is one way, which I can do that."
During the class, Gendron emphasizes the interaction between culture and language in order to help students understand the subtleties and complexities of English as it is actually used.
"We give presentations through group activities about topics like American culture, idioms, acronyms, states, or even humors," said Sgt. Lee Soon-min, from Cheongju, senior KATUSA assigned to 579th Signal Company, 70th BSB. "We learn something that we can use in real situations, so it is useful when we talk with U.S. Soldiers."
Gendron teaches KATUSAs, but also she gives them chances to study and work on their own. After that, she gives additional explanation or comments of what they did.
"The class consists of lecture and group activity," said Cpl. Kim Tae-hong, from Incheon, senior KATUSA assigned to Company B, 70th BSB. "Students have lots of opportunities to speak, and the teacher gives us feedback after that."
Kim thinks the class helps KATUSAs to fix communication errors and overcome cultural differences between the United States and Korea.
"For newly assigned KATUSAs, they can adapt to the unit better through this class. It also helps other KATUSAs get to know more about the American culture," said Sgt. Maj. Kim Hyung-suk, from Pyeongchang, 70th BSB Republic of Korea Army sergeant major. "They can have a better understanding of U.S. Soldiers' characteristics and to build better relationships between them."
Gendron believes this class will have a positive effect to the unit and relationships between Soldiers.
"The class is designed to both encourage interaction and to improve communication between the KATUSAs and the U.S. Soldiers in their unit," said Gendron. "This develops trust, encourages friendships, and ultimately strengthens the U.S. - ROK Alliance."
ROK army leadership and KATUSAs appreciate all of her efforts.
"It isn't easy to give these great classes just for free. She always tries hard to make the class enjoyable. She even prepares snacks for the KATUSAs," said Sgt. Maj. Kim. "It is an honor to meet a good person like her, and this is a very good opportunity for all of us."
The KATUSA program began in 1950, and since then, KATUSAs have been a symbol of strong U.S. and ROK Alliance. KATUSAs augmented to 210th Fires Brigade increase the ROK - U.S. combined defense capability on the Korean Peninsula.