MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Language-enabled service members at Air Force and joint bases worldwide connect at their local bases through LEAP Chapters. For example, LEAP Scholars stationed at Yokota Air Base in Japan have recently established a LEAP Chapter at their base.
The chapter’s executive council currently includes Chinese Mandarin LEAP Scholar Capt. Yanzhi Zhuo as president, Tagalog LEAP Scholar Master Sgt. Hazel Jean Sarah Mangabat as vice president, Japanese LEAP Scholar Staff Sgt. Mark Aris Dacumos as secretary, and Tagalog LEAP Scholar Tech. Sgt. Jared Kirby Ian Garcia as treasurer.
Yokota's LEAP Chapter emphasizes educating members on how LEAP aids the overall mission in support of the National Defense Strategy at the tactical level.
“Our goal is to educate the Wing on the importance of LEAP in our day-to-day missions, provide a setting where scholars can practice their language and build a stronger community, and help prospective scholars in developing their application packages,” chapter member Master Sgt. Marc Villanueva said.
The chapter connects with members through monthly meetings, email distribution updates, and their chapter Facebook page.
Most recently, the chapter’s outgoing president Capt. Patrick Taylor organized a follow-up to last year's 101 briefing by Villanueva titled "what board members look for." The briefing was taught by LEAP Chapter member Chief Master Sgt. Ireneo Alfaro, a Tagalog speaker who has been in the program since 2014. The club also took the opportunity to introduce the newly elected executive council and shared their vision for the new year.
“Since it's a new chapter, we are still building from the ground up. We have concentrated on educating future scholars on the application process and connecting current scholars through monthly meetings. We also try to organize informal luncheons so members can share thoughts and experiences in a casual event,” Villanueva explained.
These chapter meetings and collaborations help the Scholars at Yokota Air Base understand the importance of LEAP and its impact on the Air Force mission.
“Not only does LEAP provide translators on an official capacity, but it helps with the day-to-day transactions, especially in PACAF. Additionally, the program is building Airmen's cross-cultural competency to nurture greater trust and understanding with partner nations,” Villanueva said.
The chapter members are also advocates for LEAP among their peers and with their leadership teams.
“Not a lot of leaders know about this program and how it helps the Air Force as a whole,” Villanueva said. “It’s up to us, the current scholars, to educate them on what we can offer, with the hopes of embedding these diverse Airmen in more DoD activities as mission assets and force multipliers and less on a volunteer basis.”
A current list of active LEAP Chapters is available at https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/AFCLC/LEAP-Chapter-Directory/. If you are interested in starting a LEAP Chapter at your local base, contact the Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Division at email@example.com.