Kalynn Mendez

 michelle adams

International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies, minor in Spanish | 2016

Kalynn was selected to become a member of the Modern Standard Arabic target language program in the United States Air Force.

Arabic has been a key part of my career as an officer in the US Air Force from day one, and even before my commission... I am very fortunate to have studied Arabic at the University of Arkansas because it opened to me this amazing door to LEAP so early on in my Air Force career.

During my last semester at the University of Arkansas while I was still a cadet in the AFROTC program, I applied to the Air Force Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP).  Simply put, this selective program allows Airmen who
are proficient in a language from any career field to enhance both their language skills and cross-cultural expertise in order to utilize them for real-world missions either within the Air Force, or with one of the sister services.  In LEAP, training is conducted in two ways: eMentor courses, and Language Intensive Training Events (LITEs).  An eMentor course is an online class in which there is an instructor who is a native speaker of the target language, and up to six students total.  Communication is done through video and audio, as well as through various writing tools. The LITEs on the other hand are short term "missions" that can last up to four weeks.  LITEs manifest themselves in various ways depending on the language level of the student.  For example, a LITE can be conducted in a classroom at a language school, either in the US or abroad; or, a LITE can entail supporting a real-time mission as an interpreter or ambassador-like figure.

 A few weeks after submitting my application, I was notified that I had been selected to become a member of the program for the target language of Modern Standard Arabic.  I was ecstatic!  It wasn't too long after I began my Active Duty service that I jumped into my first eMentor class.  My first class was eight weeks long, with instruction given three days a week for two hours each session.  It took dedication and studying on my part, but I was able to build on the strong foundation that I had established from the Arabic department at the University of Arkansas, and noticed a significant improvement in my Arabic upon class completion.  

Soon, I will begin my first LITE.  My LITE is set to take place with a language company here in the U.S. for about four weeks.  I am excited about this LITE mainly due to the fact that I will have a private tutor!  This will be a challenge in the sense that all eyes will be on me, but a benefit in that everything will be tailored and paced exactly to my needs.