Students of the Korean Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center gathered to help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice at the 11th annual Korean Speech Contest held on June 27.
DLIFLC Commandant, Col. Danial D. Pick, praised the students for undertaking an endeavor as serious and difficult as learning a foreign language for the benefit of their country. Pick also applauded the teachers of Asian II School who make student success possible.
"I would like to thank the faculty and staff who continue to provide leadership and academic excellence in the classroom day after day that leads to events like today and the graduation of 87 percent of our students at a 2/2/1+ rating," said Pick.
Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Pendergast, a 1988 graduate of the Korean Basic Course, commended students on their hard work and noted the contest was the highlight of his year spent at DLIFLC in the capacity of Command Sergeant Major.
The dean of Asian II School, Dr. A. Clive Roberts, offered his welcoming remarks for the contest and gave insight into what the contest means to DLIFLC and its students.
"These amazing and interesting speeches illustrate our student's readiness in the crucial role they will play in the U.S., South Korea, and all of global security," he said.
The 12 student participants, who were able to choose their speech topics based upon three broad categories which matched their competency, practiced for weeks in preparation for the contest.
Former dean of Asian II School, Sahie Kang was also extremely impressed by this year's group of contestants and explained what had changed within the contest over the years.
"The topics this year were so much more serious than years prior. It really shows a level of interest the students have in their topics and the language they're learning," said Kang.
Pvt. 1st Class Benjamin Bennett was awarded the Commandant's Special Award for his speech about his Korean step-grandmother. While his grandfather was serving in the Korean War, he met and married a Korean woman. Prior to his Korean course, the language barrier kept Bennett from becoming close with his grandmother.
"My grandmother has now become not only a close friend and speaking partner, but also a very nice Korean language teacher. Someday, I would like to visit Korea with her," said Bennett in his speech.
While some topics were light and conversational like Bennett's, other speeches discussed the Korean government or explained the Juche philosophy used to further communism and economic development within the country.
All the speeches had an underlying common thread though, which was the apparent enjoyment and respect the students had for the Korean language and culture. One of the guest speakers, Dr. Jung Sup King, the dean of the Institute of International Education at Kyung Hee University, urged all of the students to continue their pursuit of passion for the language.
"Your Korean language ability will fulfill your life in diverse ways. Because of that, we hope you not only practice Korean professionally, but also that you enjoy it as a hobby," said Sup King.
Story and Photo Credits
Story by Devon Swanson, DLIFLC PAO Intern
Photos by Natela Cutter, DLIFLC PAO
Photo 1: Korean students rooting for their team, during the 11th annual Korean Speech Contest held on June 27. (Photo by Natela Cutter / released)