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LEAP Spotlight: Lt Kate Thormann

1st Lt Kate Thormann on a LITE in Ukraine

1st Lt Kate Thormann on a LITE in Ukraine

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

“The Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) is an incredible program that will most definitely help shape U.S. relations with other countries and determine the U.S.’s competitive edge in the global arena.

I was selected for LEAP back in November 2018 and since then I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to visit Ukraine for four weeks for an immersion and complete an eMentor online language course. The eMentor course has enhanced my mechanical skills to write, read, speak, and understand the language. More importantly, I have learned a lot about Ukrainian history, culture, architecture, and traditions, which combined with the aforementioned mechanical skills, equipped me with a holistic understanding of the people of Ukraine, their lifestyle, and everyday challenges. [Language Intensive Training Events] (LITEs) are hands down a must when it comes to truly understanding the culture of the region one is specialized in. While in the country for my LITE, I had an opportunity to get more insight into the history lessons as well as the current situation in the country, by visiting museums, monuments, and talking to people. I learned the perspective of college professors, missionaries, and law enforcement who took part in protests and military actions in Eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the war in 2014. It’s a remarkable story of people coming together and rising against corruption. College professors [and] a lot of educated folks came out after a daylong of work to speak up and protest their salaries cut almost in half, pensions that are not enough to cover basic needs like food and utilities, treasury drained down to nearly nothing, and barely any military force built up. Despite all those challenges, the people of Ukraine found strength and unity to keep going and demand sovereignty for their country. I am looking forward to [being] able to utilize the skills I have attained while in LEAP and becoming a part of building global partnerships.”

-LEAP Scholar 1st Lt Kate Thormann-