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LEAP Spotlight: Capt. Jack Corriere

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  • By Capt. Jack Corriere, Spanish LEAP Scholar

I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2017 with a degree in Systems Engineering. I went to pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base then flew F-16s at Shaw Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base. Now, I am back at Sheppard as an instructor pilot.

My mom is Cuban and ever since I was a kid, she spoke to me in Spanish; Spanish was actually my first language. I've tried to maintain it, but I knew I needed to do more. I wanted to pay it forward. I found out about the Language Enabled Airman Program during a training exercise with the Colombian Air Force when I was flying F-16s. Our detachment commander there told me all about it, so I applied and got accepted. 

LEAP has been a great way to better my Spanish-speaking abilities, and it's offered me some amazing opportunities. I did an online eMentor language course in January and recently completed a Language Intensive Training Event in Panama. LITEs are great because you have organized classes and tours Monday through Friday, but you can also explore the country on the weekends! So not only are you learning the language, but you also can travel and explore on your own time, which enhances the overall cultural immersion experience. 

I think the only way to truly better your language speaking abilities is to spend time in a foreign country utilizing that language and really immerse yourself in that culture by staying with a host family and experiencing how they live, what they enjoy, and what their take is on fun. Doing simple things like that where you get to witness how another culture experiences life is very eye-opening and interesting. You can bring those lessons back to the U.S. and to the Air Force. 

There are not a lot of American pilots I work with who are bilingual. I bring that skill into the pilot realm and can talk to them about what it's like in Panama, the importance of being bilingual, and getting to know other cultures. I can also communicate the importance of our partnerships in Latin and Central America. Since Sheppard is a NATO Base, it’s especially beneficial bringing that experience back here to help our pilots interact with the German, Italian, and other cultures represented here.

There are a lot of pilots who don’t know about LEAP and think the only job they can have is being a pilot. They don't know you can do LEAP and be afforded these amazing opportunities while you are a pilot. You can have the best of both worlds if you are a pilot who speaks another language. We need pilots who speak other languages and can build relationships with their counterparts in other countries, specifically in Latin American countries, which are very important to our goals as NATO and in the U.S.

LEAP has also impacted my personal life by presenting me with more opportunities to maintain what my mom worked so hard to give me in my childhood, which is speaking another language. It's given me the opportunity to improve that and pass it on to future generations as well as bring cultural awareness to the Air Force about Hispanic culture, which is the most important thing to me. 

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