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

LEAP Spotlight: Tech. Sgt. Jorge Nevarez

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

“I was born in Mexico and lived there most of my life before moving to the United States. After joining the Air Force, I completed my two CCAF associate degrees in Hospitality and Human Resources. I then completed my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and will start on my master’s degree in International Relations in 2023.

“My military background started in services, including food service, mortuary, and lodging, and I did that for about six years. For the last six years, I’ve been a recruiter. I started as an enlisted accessions recruiter near the Boston, MA, area. Now, I’m an officer accessions recruiter based out of Nebraska.

“My language journey began in 2005 when I went to school to learn English and had the opportunity to move to the U.S. They taught German at the high school I went to, so I enrolled in a German course.

“I started learning Portuguese in 2012 because I thought I was going to go on a vacation to Brazil. I ended up not going to Brazil, but I had already picked up some of the language, so I kept learning it. I figured it would help for something one day. 

“In 2014, I had a supervisor who was extremely passionate about languages, and he mentioned he worked for NATO at one point. He told me that going into the Language Enabled Airman Program could potentially open doors for those kind of opportunities in the Air Force and even after I retire. I started looking into LEAP and saw it was a program that would help you enhance your language skills. I’ve always had a heart for adventure, so I thought it’d be an amazing program to join. I applied for LEAP in 2015 and was selected as a Portuguese Brazilian Scholar.

“As a recruiter, LEAP is one of the recruiting tools I use with applicants because it’s a program that no other branch has, so it’s unique to the Air Force. In my last assignment as an enlisted accessions recruiter, I used my Portuguese language skills a lot because I was recruiting in an area with a huge Brazilian and Portuguese community. Even though recruits are required to have English language skills to join the Air Force, it helped a lot that I was able to connect with the parents. That is extremely important in this line of work because the parents are the biggest support for that recruit.

“One of the things I’ve learned in LEAP is there’s a difference between just knowing the language and understanding the culture behind it. That’s something that LEAP enhances- understanding the culture and learning the language. That’s one of the things that has made me successful in my job.

“In 2016, I was able to work in the U.S. Embassy in Portugal for one of my Language Intensive Training Events. During that mission, I worked with the Office for Defense Cooperation. That was such an amazing experience because I didn’t know that office existed and what their mission was. From there, I took several eMentor courses and a LITE University course in San Diego. 

“Most recently, I was involved in a Training Partnership Request to Angola to support a medical readiness exercise and to support the first American performing surgery in the country. 

“I worked in the operating room, emergency room, and Women’s Health office. I was able to do real-time interpretation in the room from Portuguese to English and vice versa so the doctors could understand what was going on. I used a lot of terminology I wasn’t used to using daily, so it was challenging and an amazing way to help me expand my vocabulary.

“One thing that was unique about this Training Partnership Request was that there were Cuban doctors there as well, so I had the opportunity to interpret Spanish as well as Portuguese. In one scenario, we had an American doctor, a Cuban doctor, and an Angolan patient in the room, so I was able to interpret from Spanish to Portuguese to English in one setting.

“Doing officer accessions recruiting, I specialize in the recruiting of nurses and dentists. Therefore, participating in the Training Partnership in Angola was an amazing experience because I got to immerse with military medical professionals since that is the area I’m recruiting for. Seeing them in action and learning from them will help me relate with other applicants in the future, as many of them look at the military as an opportunity to do humanitarian missions. 

“LEAP definitely spiced up my career in the Air Force. I’ve been able to participate in a lot of opportunities to support the Air Force that I never thought I’d be able to have. The TPR in Angola also gave me a different outlook on life and made me more appreciative of what we have here.  

“I would tell other Airmen interested in LEAP to just go for it. Make sure you take your DLPT. If you’re not a select, then try again the next year. It’s an amazing opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.”

-Portuguese Brazilian LEAP Scholar Tech. Sgt. Jorge Nevarez

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