After a successful pilot program from June to September 2017, the Ulsan Police Language Exchange was launched in collaboration with WeHope. Each week of the pilot program we gradually discussed more diverse topics. Together the native English speakers built a strong relationship with the Ulsan Police Department. This gave us the opportunity to see the potential for a language exchange in the safest environment, while still including any topic a member desired to discuss. The variety of group members stimulated much debate, laughter and learning. WeHope was motivated to share this unique experience. Thanks to the volunteer work by Kay Davids and Inspector Oh of the Foreigner Department, a group of English speakers and Korean police officers from all over Ulsan now meet to speak and learn every Tuesday. Topics vary from basic Korean for daily use, to modern colloquialisms of the English language. Policemen come from various departments and neighborhoods all over Ulsan.
Our native English speakers are coaxed by delicious lunch, but end up staying purely for the joy of speaking with interesting people on a weekly basis. Creating this safe and free environment encourages foreigners and police to speak comfortably and freely, bridging not only the language barrier, but the cultural one as well. Unlikely friendships have been formed with each week. To further strengthen the relationship between the police and the foreigner community, regular outings have also been organized. Everyone in Korea knows the bonds of friendship forged by a few bottles of soju. All events suggested by our members are discussed and planned as a group. Previous events have included impromptu lunches, traditional Korean dinners, pretend-you-can-sing noraebang nights and sunny Saturday rooftop barbeques. Being able to share parts of your culture and tradition is both an interesting and inspiring experience. We encourage all our members to share their passions while practicing language. Each 8 week program rotates new police officers and English speakers. This guarantees a different exchange every few weeks and allows more people to join, learn and laugh with us. Of course, we have many members who simply continue to attend the exchange after the 8 week period. And we’d never turn them away, as we understand it’s hard to say goodbye to a standing appointment with new friends!