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GREAT LAKES -- Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) hosted seven interns from the Republic of Korea (ROK) Parliament aboard Naval Station Great Lakes, July 30.
The visit was part of an annual cultural exchange between college student interns from the ROK Parliament and the United States Congress.
"We hope the interns see the friendship between our two countries and the long history the United States has with South Korea," said Eric Miller, senior district representative for Rep. Robert J. Dold, of Illinois, who was sponsoring the group while on board the naval station.
"The visit also gives them an opportunity to see first hand the military that has been defending South Korea since the Korean War."
The group started their tour at the Navy's only boot camp, Recruit Training Command (RTC). They were shown where recruits live, workout and train.
"The technology is very impressive especially with the ship simulator," said Jung Min Kang, 23, an intern and student at Yonsei University in Seoul. "The smells and scenarios on the ship seemed to provide good quality training and education."
The ship and scenarios Kang was talking about is on USS Trayer (BST 21), the Navy's largest simulator, a 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer mockup where recruits go through Battle Stations, a grueling 12-hour culmination of basic training and the last evolution recruits accomplish before they graduate.
Trayer presented the interns a chance to experience the sites, sounds and smells by using the latest in simulation technology with video screens, piped-in smells, large stereo woofer-created vibrations and shipboard sound effects from helicopters to missile hits. They also got to see some of the 17 shipboard scenarios the recruits undergo during battle stations.
These scenarios include finding and putting out a compartment fire, controlling flooding and finding injured crew members in a mass casualty evolution.
"It was a very interesting experience for me," said intern Kyu Do Lee, who served with the U. S. Army in South Korea before becoming an intern in his country's parliament. "I knew some things about the U.S. Army, but this was my first experience seeing the Navy and the training Sailors go through."
The group also visited the USS Missouri Small Arms Marksmanship Trainer (SAMT) on board RTC. While there they had the opportunity to see how recruits learn to handle and fire the Navy's standard issue M9 Berreta pistol and the Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun. SAMT uses red laser lights and pneumatic air to simulate the firing and hits on a computer target. They also visited the Freedom Hall Physical Fitness Trainer to see how recruits perform their Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA). They also visited USS Triton a recruit barracks, or ship, to see where recruits live, study and eat.
"I was surprised how young Americans volunteer to join the Navy and the quality of training they go through here," Kang said. "In Korea, military training is mandatory for all the young people. Here there seems to by a systematic approach to the military training but at the same time allow them to educate themselves and work on degrees. This was very impressive to see."
Following their time on board RTC, the interns were taken to Training Support Center (TSC) to view more specialized training for the particular job a Sailor does in the Navy. They visited the Operations Specialist/Quartermaster (OS/QM) A School and USS Whitehat line-handling trainer for future Boatswain Mates.
At OS/QM school the interns observed students learning how to read and operate computer systems that track objects and targets. They also were shown that the Navy still teaches navigation and reading of charts that has been part of the Navy since its birth in 1775.
"Seeing how the Navy teaches how to use navigational maps and computer navigation with the Voyage Management System (VMS) was very interesting. It was like combining old ways with new ways," said Lee.
"I also liked watching the Sailors learn how to handle ship mooring lines on USS Whitehat. It was like watching a dance. The teamwork of all the Sailors was very impressive."
On Whitehat, a wooden mockup of a ship, the Korean interns saw the operation of a deck crane, how ships refuel at sea, how Sailors can be transferred from one ship to another and how the helm on the bridge works.
Through the efforts of the U. S. Congress, State Department and Meridian International Center, exchanges between American students and interns, and those from foreign countries has taken place for more than 50 years.
Meridian is a non-profit organization that promotes international understanding through professional exchange, educational and arts programs. They work with the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassies worldwide to create lasting international partnerships through leadership and cultural exchanges. Through this partnership, Meridian has conducted exchange programs for more than 65,000 foreign professionals over the last 50 years and organized cultural exhibitions to 357 host venues in 44 U.S. states and 55 countries. The exchange with the Republic of Korea has been an annual occurrence for more than 30 years.
"We hope that these young professionals will remain engaged with their American counterparts who they met in Washington," said Andrew Ainsworth, a program associate from Meridian escorting the interns across the U.S. "We hope they learn about each others country and governmental systems, the differences and strengths of each and how we can continue our bilateral relationship and in particular the strength of our military alliance."
The Republic of Korean Parliament interns were spending 10 days in the United States while their U.S. Congressional counterparts were doing the same in the Republic of Korea. The Korean interns also spent time in Washington, D.C., Chicago, an overnight stay on a farm in Geneseo, Ill., and ended their trip in Los Angeles before returning to the Republic of Korea.
The mission of NSTC is to transform volunteers into naval service professionals. NSTC instills and reinforces enduring core values, knowledge and skills to prepare them for the fleet
Recruit Training Command, located on board Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., trains more than 35,000 volunteer civilian recruits annually, transforming them into basically trained Sailors.
TSC Great Lakes is one of Naval Station Great Lakes largest tenant commands, supporting technical post-recruit training and other training in a number of disciplines, in about 80 different courses of instruction. The five Learning Sites and one unit supported by TSC provide approximately 85 percent of the Navy's initial surface warfare training.
The Great Lakes Learning Sites make up the Navy's largest technical training operation, with an annual throughput of approximately 13,500 students and up to 5,000 students on board at any time. Many of the courses offered at the Great Lakes Learning Sites and one unit are also attended by several international military students each year.