Giving ThanksNovember is the month of “Thank You’s.” Towards the beginning of the month, we focus on giving thanks to our veterans for their service. At the end of the month at Thanksgiving, we look inward and give thanks for the many aspects of our lives that we enjoy and do not want to take for granted.
Language Directions is thankful for the opportunity to help our NJ-based Air Force advisors at Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst in their preparation for deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, South America, and other parts of the globe to bring technical and military assistance to our allies in need. We have been a part of the Air Advisor Academy program since 2012, providing skilled native speaker linguists/instructors to teach essential, “survival” language and culture skills to enable airmen and other agency representatives to thrive and complete their mission in an area far removed from the U.S.
Success in an advisor’s mission can depend upon the ability to establish rapport and trust with tribal elders, foreign military officers, and the local population. I have been fortunate to observe many classes in Arabic, Dari, Pashto, African French, and Latin American Spanish over the years of our contract and watched in admiration as our charismatic instructors succeed in teaching essential communication and understanding in languages and behaviors so different from the American experience. Rarely have I seen more enthusiastic and dedicated instructors sharing their culture and language. And rarely have I seen students so focused on learning. Within a span of days, students are communicating in the target language about the specific priorities essential for their mission. Instructors make things more real by bringing products and cultural items to class and weaving real-life scenarios into the lessons. A cultural meal familiarizes the students with local foods, etiquette, and behavior that will ensure the comfort level of both foreign host and American advisor.
In this month of recognition and thanks, the staff and instructors of Language Directions celebrate each life we may have touched; limited English workers improving their ability to communicate, foreign-born managers and executives conquering their accent and pronunciation issues, supervisors and employees working together in a multilingual/multicultural workplace, and American military personnel acquiring the tools to fulfill their mission and return home safely.
Happy Thanksgiving to All!