AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

LEAP Spotlight: 1st Lt. Jason Pluger

  • Published
  • By AFCLC Outreach Team
  • AFCLC

“I’m currently stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and in May of this year, I’ll reach my fourth anniversary as a Mandarin Chinese Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar. I began studying Chinese my freshman year of high school and enjoyed both the language and culture immediately. I studied all four years of high school and then continued my studies within the Department of Foreign Languages at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“After two years of study at USAFA, however, I realized I could not achieve language fluency in a classroom setting. Therefore, I decided to depart from USAFA and became an English teacher in mainland China for two years before returning to complete my degree. Spending two years immersed in the language and culture was just what I needed to ‘connect the dots’ that had been drawn during the previous six years of classroom study. 

“I learned about LEAP through my Chinese professors at USAFA and was very interested in applying from the beginning. Knowing language ability wanes quickly in fledgling learners who aren’t diligent about practicing the language consistently, I viewed LEAP as a means to both receive the consistent practice I needed and to apply my skill in a capacity that could benefit the Air Force. 

“Over the course of my time in the program, I’ve participated in multiple eMentor courses and have also had the opportunity to attend a two-week intensive course hosted at Maxwell AFB, AL. During the course, LEAP Scholars from the French, Spanish, and Chinese language groups studied the People’s Republic of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, focused specifically on the PRC’s efforts in Africa and South America. Throughout the course, I not only learned a great deal about the initiative and picked up a great deal of specialized vocabulary, but I was also able to engage with some very talented and thoughtful LEAP Scholars and instructors; this was the most beneficial part of the course. 

“Overall, I’ve had an excellent experience in LEAP. Being a LEAP Scholar has gone a long way toward helping me both maintain and further my language ability. I have nothing but praise to give the Air Force Culture and Language Center staff, all of whom are very clearly dedicated to cultivating AF members with high levels of language ability so they can be utilized to support missions across the DoD in the most effective way possible. 

“I feel very fortunate to have been selected as a LEAP Scholar, and I thank AFCLC for giving me the opportunities they have to maintain and further develop my language ability.” 

--Chinese Mandarin LEAP Scholar 1st Lt. Jason Pluger
 

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