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LEAP Spotlight: MSgt Andrés F. Moreno-Rojas

Photo Courtesy of MSgt Andrés F. Moreno-Rojas

Photo Courtesy of MSgt Andrés F. Moreno-Rojas Left to right: MSgt Andrés Moreno Rojas, Maj Mohamed Savage, and Capt Jonathan Londoño

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

“A few years ago, I was accepted into the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) and since then, I have had the distinct pleasure of partaking in two eMentor courses and one Language Intensive Training Event (LITE) to Bogota, Colombia, as well as a quick turn translation support for SOUTHCOM’s Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) 2020.

When I joined LEAP, I had no idea what to expect. During both my eMentor courses, I walked away with a deeper understanding of my native language. I left Colombia at age 15, so while completely fluent, I never learned the higher levels of grammar for Spanish and in both courses my instructors pushed me to improve my understanding and application of the language. I also truly appreciated the fact that each class is live and with a few other students. This allows for instant feedback, great discussion, and max participation from the students.

My LITE to Colombia is one of the best highlights of my entire Air Force career. As I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Therefore, at first, while extremely excited, in the back of my mind I thought, ‘man, I wish I was going to a place I had not been to before.’ I could not have been more off on what my experience during this LITE would be like. I experienced Colombia with a completely different paradigm that I did not even think I had. First, I was impressed by the caliber of briefers LEAP lined up to give us a crash course on Colombia. We learned from people that were currently active in each sector and with vast knowledge and I walked away with knowledge about my native country I had no idea about before. We even scored a tour of the National Capitol Building. Between our immersion courses and our support of the Air Force Mission Office in the National Administrative Center (the equivalent of the Pentagon), we were allowed time to travel the country during our down time. Each trip was an opportunity to immerse with a culture that now feels different from my own. Not to mention that during this time, Colombia was playing in the FIFA World Cup and the nation was lively everywhere we went. In such a relatively short period, I learned about national level cooperation and the degree of support we are providing to Colombia’s Air Force in the fight against drug cartels at the service level and  it reinvigorated my sense of pride in being an American Airman. Furthermore, I left Colombia with a deeper understanding of the culture, its people and the language.

Using this experience, recently, I was able to provide support to SOUTHCOM’s CANSEC 2020 where I helped translate a document that was used during their virtual exercise. Here lies where both the Air Force and I have benefited from the existence of my participation in LEAP. I was able to improve my knowledge and application of the language and the Air Force was able to leverage that at a moment’s notice to support a multi-national virtual exercise as well as further their interest in SOUTHCOM’s region.”

-MSgt Andrés F. Moreno-Rojas -