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French LEAP Scholars Participate in ISO Immersion Course for Integrated Deterrence

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

The Air Force Culture and Language Center developed a two-week isolated immersion course to better prepare LEAP Scholars for integrated deterrence and partner interoperability.

The two-week course took place November 8-19, 2021, in Washington, D.C. During this immersion, the Scholars were in a real-world isolated environment. They lived together and utilized their target language 100 percent of the time during their stay, including during excursions and outings. They discussed strategic topics related to integrated deterrence and completed excursions within the community related to the target language.

Seven French LEAP Scholars were hand-selected by AFCLC Language Development Coordinators based on their language proficiency, experience, and overall LEAP level to participate in the course. The selected Scholars included: Maj. Andrew Beasley, Maj. Lauren Bogle, 1st Lt. Dyami Bryant, Maj. Lauren Cooper, Staff Sgt. Kamiyla Felder, Master Sgt. Dolores Fisher, 1st Lt. Erika Flack and Capt. Stone Shoaf.

“This group of Scholars was phenomenal,” AFCLC Language Intensive Training Event program manager Keith McCabe said. “They all worked together as a team, more so a family, especially when they broke into groups to do their final course preparation for their presentations. There was a lot of teamwork involved.”

Mr. Chris Chesser, AFCLC Language Division Chief, Capt. Krista Bible, AFCLC Language Division Operations Officer, and Mr. Keith McCabe created this isolated immersion course model to deliberately develop language and cultural expertise in the global mission for enhancing partnerships.

“The concepts and strategies designed for this course helped the Scholars understand the full impact of the Chinese and Russian influences on global missions and also further prepared the instructors to teach on these concepts moving forward,” McCabe said.

The ISO Immersion courses stemmed from the advanced special emphasis courses AFCLC conducted earlier this year focused on great power competition with an emphasis on the Belt and Road Initiative and cyber capabilities.

“The course has prepared these LEAP scholars to more effectively partner within the AFRICOM AOR to employ air and space power,” Chesser said.

Lt. Col. Chad Polumbo, a French FAO with SAF/IA, also joined the AFCLC staff and LEAP Scholars during an immersion dinner and provided his AFRICOM background along with his knowledge on the Belt and Road Initiative and the influence of Beijing’s Government on many countries in Africa.

“French is a key language for Airmen and Guardians, as it is spoken by some of our closest allies and many of our African partners,” Polumbo said. “These Scholars are doing important work to better understand the language, cultural context, and key issues in Africa to further American interests and counter malign actors on the frontlines of strategic competition.”

The instructors for the isolated immersion were native language speakers and had a great deal of experience in the AFRICOM region. Bible and McCabe also joined the LEAP Scholars in Washington, D.C., to help facilitate the immersion.

“The instructors for this ISO Immersion were amazing,” McCabe said. “They covered information from the Belt and Road Initiative to Chinese influence throughout AFRICOM and were able to teach what they saw from their own experiences in the region. They also covered Russian cyber influence throughout AFRICOM and other regions.”

Bible, Operations Officer for AFCLC’s Language Division and a French LEAP Scholar, sat in on one of the morning class sessions to experience the immersion course firsthand alongside the Scholars attending the course.

“The Scholars were able to learn a lot about how to express their opinions on a variety of topics related to integrated deterrence. With them being intermediate-level students, they also worked on grammar and language skills to bring their French to the next level.” Bible said. “They were able to broaden their vocabulary to discuss topics relevant to the Air Force and senior leader conversations that they would not necessarily discuss in a casual or familial setting.”

French LEAP Scholar Master Sgt. Dolores Fisher, an instructor by trade, embraced her learning role as a student during the immersion to enhance her French language and culture skills to help the USAF with initiatives in the AFRICOM region. After being a student during the two-week isolated immersion, she was able to bring back a different perspective to her students and inform them of the positive outcomes resulting from being a member of LEAP.

“During the course, the other LEAP Scholars and I were able to help each other grow because we all had different levels of knowledge of the language,” Fisher said. “We ate, slept, breathed, read, studied, wrote, cooked and spoke in French. The course was intense and 24/7 for two weeks straight, but it was a great experience that helped us better understand the global mission and role of language and culture learning in the USAF; It also gave us the knowledge and confidence to discuss any topic in French.”

Throughout FY22, AFCLC plans to host 10 additional ISO immersions in specific target languages. The next ISO Immersion will be in Los Angeles, CA, for Korean LEAP Scholars.


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