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

LEAP to FAO Spotlight: Capt. Rufus Gorkhali

  • Published
  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

“I am a recent selectee for the 2022/2023 United States Air Force Foreign Area Officer cohort assigned to USINDOPACOM. As part of my training, I will attend Naval Postgraduate School to complete a graduate degree in International Relations. 

“I commissioned through AFROTC in 2013 and joined the Language Enabled Airman Program in 2014. I have attended multiple eMentor classes for Nepali and Hindi. I have also participated in one advanced Language Intensive Training Event in Nepal where I was an interpreter for an exchange training exercise between USAF Special Operations Forces and Nepal Army unit. 

“Separately, I have worked as a Liaison Officer at US Embassy New Delhi and as an augmentee for USDAO at US Embassy Kathmandu as part of my primary duties.

“My family and I lived in Nepal when I was young. I grew up in a multilingual household and was naturally exposed to speaking multiple languages as a child. In my school, I primarily communicated in English as well. Most people in Nepal also watch Bollywood movies and TV shows and pick up Hindi very easily. At a young age, I was able to communicate in four languages. 

“I learned about LEAP while browsing on the Air Force Portal. There was a call for applicants with prior language experience to apply for the program. Although I did not have any formal higher-level education in my languages, I had DLPT and OPI scores on record. 

“I was specifically interested in the opportunity to receive language tutoring. Around the time I applied for the program, my language level had atrophied. I needed coaching to improve my capability. I am thankful I was picked for the program on my first application.  

“I am incredibly thankful to be part of LEAP. It has been instrumental in my professional growth as an officer. It has largely influenced my career trajectory as well. I only joined LEAP thinking it would be helpful to improve my language, but it has given me so much more. LEAP (through LITEs and eMentor courses) has improved my cultural understanding in addition to language comprehension. 

“I learned about the Foreign Area Officer career field only after joining LEAP. FAO was a recurring topic during multiple LEAP webinars and mentorship sessions.   

“LEAP influenced my choice to apply for FAO. During my first advanced LITE in Nepal, I worked as an interpreter for a Joint Combined Exchange Training between USSOF and Nepal Army Rangers. During the exercise, I briefly had a conversation with the Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Defense Attaché office Kathmandu. His elevator pitch for the job easily won me over. In my subsequent assignments, I had the opportunity to work at the USDAO Kathmandu and USDAO New Delhi. These opportunities firmed up my intent to apply for FAO. 

“I would encourage all Airmen to apply to LEAP regardless of their prior experience with any foreign languages. The program provides invaluable opportunities and tools to improve on existing or new knowledge.”

-LEAP Scholar and Foreign Area Officer Capt. Rufus Gorkhali

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