International families graduate from orientation program
Soojin Choi and Lin Jung display their Hanbok, South Korea's traditional dress wear during the International Family Orientation Program graduation on July 3. IFOP classes are designed to familiarize spouses, children and other family members of International Officers with the customs and culture of the local area and the United States, and gives them a chance to meet and socialize with each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Blankenship)
International families graduate from orientation program



by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz
Air University Public Affairs


7/13/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- International Officer School spouses had the chance to show off their native garb and celebrate during the International Family Orientation Program graduation, held July 3.

Each year, IOS hosts military officers from more than 75 countries to study at Air University. The students participate in programs at Air War College, Air Command and Staff College and Squadron Officer School, often bringing their families along with them to the United States.

In response, IOS created and has hosted this annual event for more than 25 years, helping international families become acquainted with the American way of life while their significant others attend classes at AU.

This year's International Family Orientation Program was held June 25 through July 6 and included 60 spouses and 185 children representing 58 countries. IFOP focuses on language and speaking skills, purchasing local foods and shopping at local grocery venues, shopping habits and procedures, store security, severe weather actions and warnings, local driving conditions and associated hazards.

"We try to make the international spouses feel comfortable in an unfamiliar environment," said Col. Donald M. Schauber Jr., International Officer School commandant. "We provide them with a fundamental understanding of how our society operates while exposing their children to a sampling of activities enjoyed by American youth."

The program also provides familiarization on all base support facilities as well as addressing clinic procedures, who to contact in emergency situations and laws requiring use of seatbelt and child car seats.

"Our program helps the families cope with being away from their home countries, their relatives, and their friends," said the commandant. "At the same time, it is building mutually beneficial relationships that are strong and enduring."

Schauber said the program was very successful this year because they had great support from more than 45 community volunteers in addition to the Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors. Language difficulties were handled by IFOP interpreters who spoke Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Spanish and French.

Agnes Felix, an IO spouse from the Philippines, graduated from this year's IFOP and said it introduced her to many new friends in addition to helping her become more comfortable with the River Region of Alabama. She also said it is nice to meet people who are in the same situation as her and the program has lasting benefits.

"It (the program) builds a great relationship not only between the ladies, but between our countries as well," Felix said.

For more information about the International Family Orientation Program, or to become a volunteer, visit http://www.au.af.mil/au/spaatz/ios/documents/ifopbbp.pdf or call the International Officer School at 953-6338.