From soldiers to educators: Fort McCoy troops teach English to Afghan evacuees

Local News

FORT MCCOY, Wis. (WFRV) – Soldiers and now educators; troops stationed at Fort McCoy are stepping into the role of a teacher and helping Afghan evacuees learn English as a way to help them resettle in the United States.

“I’m trying to give them a head start in English as much as I can,” explained Sgt. David Shuster, a U.S. Army Reserve interior electrician assigned to 652nd Engineer Company in Hammond who was a teacher before joining the Operation Allies Welcome mission.

Fort McCoy officials share that classes run Mondays through Fridays and cover an assortment of topics such as grammar, spelling, pronunciation, reading, and math. The students in each class are reportedly split up by age and English comprehension levels.

“There are some students who are more advanced in English, and then there’s some students that are just starting out, which is the majority,” said Shuster.

Pfc. Ka Chun Yeung, a carpentry and masonry specialist with 372nd Engineer Company from Pewaukee, shared that he started by teaching his class basic principles like counting and learning the days of the week.

“For the class I taught, it was basic things like what comes after 10, what day is it, what comes after Friday and really basic counting,” said Yeung.

However, for the teachers, it doesn’t matter what grade their students are in, or how advanced their English is, one thing always remains the same.

Second Lt. John Strojny, assigned to 372nd Engineer Company and from Pewaukee shared, “Kids are kids no matter what culture they come from, or what age group they are, kids act like kids.”

Officials hope that with this education, Afghan evacuees will not only have an easier time speaking the language of their new home but will also have a simpler time integrating themselves into American culture.

“It’s starting to extend past giving them the basic needs, and it’s starting to take the form of helping them integrate into American culture,” said Strojny.

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