Linguist endeavors to maintain Indonesian proficiency

Linguist endeavors to maintain Indonesian proficiency

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Cpl. Michael Calistro, a 2011 Indonesian language graduate of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, knows first-hand that maintaining proficiency after graduation is very important. Calistro now serves at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, with the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, and is working closely with his command to improve training for its linguists. “The 205th MI recognizes that we have to have the right people for the job and is willing to invest the time into training, to include immersion opportunities. In the end, everything pays off for everybody,” said Calistro, whose eventual training would be followed by a deployment. The brigade supports its linguists by finding, evaluating and utilizing more opportunities for them to improve their language proficiency, in addition to its policy that linguists train for eight hours per week to maintain their language. Calistro specifically sought more immersion focused opportunities and, in 2014, identified the U.S. Department of State’s 60-day immersive Critical Language Scholarship as a program that could be employed by the battalion’s Indonesian linguists. Outside of DLIFLC, language immersion opportunities for military linguists are a rarity. In a time of tightening budgets, these experiences are often too expensive for individual units to utilize, but the CLS is entirely funded by the U.S. Department of State to encourage the mastering of 14 less-commonly taught languages, which includes Indonesian. For Calistro, who met all of the qualifications, this was not a hard sale to his already-supportive command, and the 205th MI successfully sent Calistro to the Universitas Negeri Malang (the State University of...
New volunteers inducted into SHARP Student Council

New volunteers inducted into SHARP Student Council

By Natela Cutter DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Twelve new volunteers were inducted into the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Student Council program Friday, receiving a specially designed patch that indicates these young service members are a part of a program to help their peers in dealing with sexual harassment and assault issues. “You are our first line of defense and I am impressed to have so many volunteers who want to help their peers…I am relying on you to be the conduit between the student population and the (SHARP) victim advocates,” said Lt. Col. Derrick Long. The SHARP Student Council program was first implemented in 2014 at the Presidio of Monterey. The concept behind the program is to provide service members with the necessary skills to guide those in need toward counselors who can offer professional help. “These Soldiers will be working jointly with the other forces to guide the service members toward the proper care they need to receive,” in case of need, explained Sgt. 1st Class Demond McGrew who leads the group....
DLIFLC honors its Nisei roots

DLIFLC honors its Nisei roots

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   SAN FRANCISCO – Marking the second anniversary of the opening of the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center on Crissy Field in San Francisco, veterans, their families and guests gathered together to mark Veterans Day on Nov. 14. “Without you, the Nisei veterans, there would be no Defense Language Institute,” said guest speaker, Col. Phillip Deppert, commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. “I am here to thank you personally, from the bottom of my heart, for the things you have done in the service of this great nation.” DLIFLC in fact traces its history to the eve of World War II when the Army decided to establish a secret language school with soldiers of Japanese descent, called Nisei. Numbering around 60, the second generation Japanese-Americans undertook language studies just five weeks before Pearl Harbor, in an abandoned aircraft hangar at the Presidio of San Francisco on Nov. 1, 1941. “These brave Soldiers not only fought like lions and used their language skills, but they had a strategic impact – interpreting for generals, working the peace negotiations, or as court translators during the post-war trials,” said Deppert. Stressing the importance of the Nisei role during the humble beginnings of the institute that is today located at the Presidio of Monterey, Deppert spoke about their legacy in the creation of what is the largest foreign language school in the United States. “We have come a long way from our modest beginnings here in 1941…Today, we teach 23 resident languages with the capacity to instruct another 65 through our...
Determination leads teacher to DLIFLC

Determination leads teacher to DLIFLC

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Zhijian “Kevin” Yang has been teaching at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s Asian School I since 2007, but his story begins during the days of China’s Cultural Revolution in the mid 1960’s, in Hohhot, the capital city of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. “It was very cold and there were not many trees,” Yang said, with a laugh as he recalled his childhood days in Hohhot. “It was almost desert-like, but we lived in the city so it wasn’t what a lot of people think of Mongolia – herdsmen, cattle, and horses.” Yang grew up in a bicultural, bilingual family with his father being ethnic Mongolian and his mother a Han Chinese. As such, they were given a choice of which school to attend. The family chose the more beneficial option, which was the Mandarin school, as opposed to the Mongolian school. As a result, Yang speaks only Chinese. Both of Yang’s parents worked. His mother was a doctor of internal medicine and his father was employed by the government as a public prosecutor. “In America, people think that we must have had a lot of money with a lawyer dad and doctor mother, but that was not always the case,” said Yang. “It wasn’t a luxurious life but it was a decent life.” One of the most difficult times for Yang, when he was about 15 to 16 years old, was when his father was placed under house arrest for more than a year at his workplace during the Cultural Revolution that took place from 1966...
Retired general says DLIFLC experience influenced 40-year career

Retired general says DLIFLC experience influenced 40-year career

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, a 1976 Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center graduate in Russian, spoke to current Russian students at the institute’s European and Latin American School Oct. 23. Adkins retired from the Army National Guard as the 28th adjutant general of Maryland and served just four days short of 40 years. Throughout that time he says that his DLIFLC experience has influenced him for most of his career. “Now, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since my class was here and (that I) sat where you are today. In October 1975, we would have been halfway through our Russian program. We experienced the same emotions that you no doubt are experiencing, from excitement to uncertainty, from frustration to fear, and we had a little fun along the way,” said Adkins. Adkins spoke to an audience of about 200 students about his experience and personal stories from his time as a student. He emphasized the lasting friendships he made with several of his classmates who joined him on the visit, as he shared photographs from when they were students. He quoted his class leader, Staff Sgt. Al Kohler, who said he was born in Pennsylvania but learned to “live” at the school in Monterey. “As you see with our class, friendships and bonds formed here have lasted for decades,” said Adkins. “Your experience here and DLIFLC will be a part of you for the rest of your life,” said Adkins. “In my case, DLIFLC was always at the core of my preparations for a...
DLIFLC team competes in Army Ten-Miler

DLIFLC team competes in Army Ten-Miler

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center competed in the 31st Annual Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11 for the first time in 13 years. The team formed in a short amount of time as tryouts were held two months prior to race day. Capt. Sarah Martin, DLIFLC Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, volunteered her time to take on most of the management and training responsibilities as the team captain. “I’m very proud overall of the effort and commitment put in by everyone. A lot of planning went into this and everybody at DLIFLC has supported us,” said Martin. On race day, two runners came in under an hour. Derek Schnell finished in 56 minutes, 2 seconds and Alexander Branch finished in 59 minutes, 11 seconds. The team’s top female runner, Hannah McKenzie, finished in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 5 seconds. Since tryouts, all the runners improved their times, with Schnell cutting his time by the most at six...
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