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

LEAP Spotlight: Tech. Sgt. Joshiro Nagashima

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshiro Nagashima, Japanese LEAP Scholar

The Language Enabled Airman Program has provided extraordinary experiences and opportunities. I am seeing the bigger picture of bilateral force, which has given me more enjoyment and fulfillment as an Airman. LEAP also made me rethink my career and ultimately re-enlist, as I enjoy being a LEAP Scholar. It has improved my communication skills and communication with family and friends in Japan as well. Overall, LEAP has enhanced my military experience and fostered a deeper sense of pride within me as an Airman.

My journey as a bilingual individual started in my early years, as both of my parents are Japanese. Grasping two languages was challenging since my primary language is English. Given that my friends, surroundings, and environment were predominantly English-speaking, my parents established a rule within the household. I was required to speak only Japanese to my parents. Also, to further enhance my proficiency, they enrolled me in a supplemental education program called Kumon. I had assignments from Kumon and my regular school homework daily. Moreover, supporting my family business was a way to help the family and gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

My introduction to the Language Enabled Airman Program started during a Change of Command ceremony volunteer event. Our task was to support both the military and the local nationals. During the event, I had the opportunity to interact with a couple of LEAP Scholars who spoke Japanese proficiently. I was intrigued by their language skills and struck up a conversation with them. It was during this conversation that I first heard about LEAP. I became interested because the program would further enhance my proficiency and provide opportunities to support and strengthen bilateral cohesion between the two countries, which I found rewarding. 

Beyond supporting Change of Commands and Social Hours, I supported Professional Development Courses for JASDF, which included teaching and mentoring E6 JASDF Airmen on the DAF Enlisted Force Structure and multiple course materials during the bilateral NCO Professional Enhancement Seminars. I also supported translations for Mortuary and Legal cases to aid the local nationals.

Furthermore, I had the opportunity to support and bridge JSDF and DAF relations during exercises COPE NORTH 21 and KEEN SWORD 21. I also worked with the JASDF Operation Support Wing to do a bilateral training for Contingency Food Operations, which led to multiple contingency DFAC briefs for JASDF Air Defense Command and officials of the Ministry of Defense.

Thus far, my experience as a LEAP Scholar has been excellent. My language proficiency has improved, and I am more confident utilizing the language for events, exercises, and missions. Building a bridge for people, units, and organizations that creates more bonds than you expected is a great feeling. One Japanese Air Self Defense Force Airman told me. "Sometimes, it may be small tasker/support, but that small support sometimes resonates the most." LEAP builds a sense of pride and achievement.

LEAP training and developmental courses also prepared me for utilization often during my tour at Yokota Air Base. While stationed there, I led Fitness operations as the NCOIC of Fitness & Sports, served as the Resource Advisor for the squadron's Resource Management, Assistant Dining Facility Manager and lastly participated in the Wing Inspection Team for the squadron and the 374th Air Wing. I communicated with the local national workers and filled communication gaps almost daily, creating a more fluid and healthy organization.

If you already have proficiency in the language, are learning a language now, or want to learn, don't hesitate to apply because LEAP is a fantastic program! It took me three times to get picked up for it, but each cycle, I prepared myself more by studying, engaging myself with the language when I had the opportunity, and being consistent. Don't be afraid, and never give up.

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