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CMSAF Wright on the Air Force Culture and Language Center: ‘This is a great opportunity’

Mr. Howard Ward, Director of the Air Force Culture and Language Center, speaks to Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth O. Wright about the Culture and Language Center at the Senior Non Commissioned Officer Academy at Maxwell AFB Gunter-Annex, AL on 14 August, 2018. The presentation was part of a series held as top enlisted leaders from international partner nations attended a summit.

Mr. Howard Ward, Director of the Air Force Culture and Language Center, speaks to Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth O. Wright about the Culture and Language Center at the Senior Non Commissioned Officer Academy at Maxwell AFB Gunter-Annex, AL on 14 August, 2018. The presentation was part of a series held as top enlisted leaders from international partner nations attended a summit.

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright listened intently as the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Director Howard Ward shared the Center’s mission and vision with the audience during this year’s Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit (SELIS). 

“We empower Airmen to operate seamlessly with air forces and populations around the world,” Mr. Ward said. 

Chief Wright was immersed with briefings during the Senior Enlisted Leader International Summit that was held at Gunter’s Senior NCO Academy in Montgomery, Alabama. Designed to bring enlisted leaders together and provide them with updates on the Air Force’s programs, Mr. Ward was able to tell the leaders from around the world about AFCLC and the Language Enabled Airman Program.

“Global enlisted leaders are the product of deliberate development,” Mr. Ward said, “and partnership is a pathway to peace”.

Founded in 2006, the Air Force Culture and Language Center offers culture and language training, embracing the Air Force Chief of Staff’s intention to improve Airmen’s cross-cultural competence. In 2009, LEAP was founded to help Airmen with existing language skills sustain those skills over the course of their careers to better support the mission and application of airpower. 

“Our learning model, like the continuum of learning, is a career-spanning learning model. We are going to train and develop you for the duration of your career,” Mr. Ward said. 

LEAP uses a two-part education method: online eMentor language courses and Language Intensive Training Events or immersions. LEAP scholars like Technical Sergeant Alain Mukendi are able to improve their language skills while working. 

“This is a great opportunity, as I am able to give back to the Air Force through my cultural experience,” TSgt Mukendi said.

Born and raised in Kinshasa, Congo, TSgt Mukendi speaks French and several African dialects including Lingala, Tshiluba, and Swahili. When he joined the Air Force, he was looking for an opportunity to use his language skills when he discovered LEAP. Through the program, he has been able to deliberately develop his skills while working as an instructor. He has taken online eMentor courses to improve his French and he has traveled on cultural immersions. 

Currently, TSgt Mukendi supervises and educates more than 184 students a year as an instructor for the Enlisted Professional Military Education (PME) Instructor Course.

“I was able to participate in the Africa Partnership Flight and use my French speaking skills, along with technical terms that I learned in this program. It was also great to learn about how their air forces operate and why they do things a certain way,” TSgt Mukendi said. “I’ve been to take what I’ve learned and share this with my students in the classroom”. 

“We value these skills and what he brings into the Air Force,” said the chief master sergeant of the Air Force in regards to TSgt Mukendi, “and as a leader, we see a lot of value in this”.

To date, more than 2,800 Airmen have continued to sustain their language skills through LEAP and thousands of other Airmen have taken advantage of the Center’s CCAF courses and expeditionary culture field guides. Mr. Ward, AFCLC’s Director, said he is proud of what the Center has accomplished and looks forward to working with CMSAF Wright to do more. 

“Keep up the good work and keep taking care of our Airmen,” Wright said, “this is a great opportunity for them”.