By Lori Quiller, AFCLC Outreach Team
/ Published July 13, 2020
LEAP Scholars Answer the Call
In early June, defense and public-security leaders from 13 Caribbean nations and four territories participated in the 2020 Caribbean Security Conference (CANSEC), which was hosted virtually for the first time by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). This year’s CANSEC focused on regional mechanisms to mitigate the impact of disasters in a COVID-19 environment.
U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of SOUTHCOM, welcomed CANSEC’s participants and addressed the importance of sharing lessons learned during the ongoing pandemic that prompted the need to host it virtually. “COVID-19 has swept the globe and affected all of us,” he said, “It’s the norm, and it will be the norm until we can inoculate and immunize the globe.”
So, when the call went out looking for personnel to translate a 13-page document and 34-slide Powerpoint deck from English into Spanish with a quick turnaround of a mere 36 hours, the Air Force Culture and Language Center (AFCLC) responded with a team of Language Enabled Airmen (LEAP) — Maj Carlos Cueto Diaz, Capt Yunior Soto, MSgt Andrés Moreno-Rojas and Maj Gloria Sanchez. These LEAP scholars not only responded quickly but took the assignment on personal time.
Led by Cueto Diaz, Joint Base San Antonio–Randolph, Texas, the team split the translation duties and got to work.
“I thought it would be challenging to complete such a large-scale project in a short amount of time. However, I knew it would be possible to get it done if I had the right team. Fortunately, the team of volunteers assigned to this project was fantastic. They were reliable, thorough, and very capable in terms of their ability to translate the necessary documents. They made easy what initially seemed like an impossible task,” Cueto Diaz said.
Soto, 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, agreed that CANSEC was an excellent opportunity to put his specialized skills to good use and recommends opportunities such as this to other LEAP scholars.
“Everything worked out smoothly because we worked as a team to divide and conquer the tasks, which made it possible to translate the product within 24 hours. At first, it felt a bit overwhelming knowing who the audience was, but everything I have learned as a LEAP scholar kicked in and just made it much easier. I recommend other LEAP students participate in such opportunities that highlight our ability as Air Force members and play an important role that most folks would never think about, such as maintaining and creating new relations with foreign partners,” Soto said.
For Moreno-Rojas, 480th Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Wing, working on the conference was the perfect example of LEAP’s value to the Air Force at large.
“In a moment’s notice, LEAP was able to pool together the necessary people with the right skills to execute a time-sensitive task. All while in the COVID-19 environment. The ability to leverage skills like that across the Air Force is invaluable!” Moreno-Rojas said.
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