Counterterrorism expert gives advice to military language students

The man who leads the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, visited his alma mater April 17, and gave Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center students some good advice regarding their language studies. “Love it,” and “have patience.” “Cultivate that love for language…It’s like any other relationship. And you have to have patience. Language is something that takes years. It takes decades. It is easy to get frustrated so you have to put in the time year after year and go deep into the language,” he told service members studying Arabic-Levantine. And Fernandez knows this from experience. He is a DLIFLC 1978 graduate of the Arabic Basic Course and a heritage speaker of Spanish. His perseverance and dedication to mastering Arabic led him to getting two degrees in Middle Eastern studies and pursuing a career in public diplomacy. He served at 10 embassies and consulates while with the State Department’s Near East Bureau and his fluency in Arabic allowed him to become the bureau’s spokesman on Arabic language and was a frequent guest in regional Arabic media. “Studying Arabic at DLI certainly influenced my career and launched me into what has been a life-long career in the Foreign Service and essentially working in the Middle East. The Arabic learned here was the beginning of studying Arabic for 30 years and working in Arabic. So for me, it was the most significant educational experience in my career,” Fernandez said. But language is not the only skill Fernandez gained at DLIFLC. “When you speak a language you learn respect and compassion for others. People are people and...
TRADOC general tells students language is “life skill”

TRADOC general tells students language is “life skill”

MONTEREY, Calif., – The deputy commanding general of the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command, LTG David Halverson, told service members studying Chinese at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center that the language and culture training they are receiving will be a “life skill” that will contribute to national security. In a visit to DLIFLC on Feb. 20, Halverson spent a day touring the facilities at the Presidio of Monterey and, in addition to Chinese, observed an advanced Russian Defense Threat Reduction Agency course, watched the interaction of Persian Farsi and Arabic language students in an immersion setting, and received a brief about continuing education through distance learning, as well as predeployment training to the Services worldwide. “It will be a life skill…and you will find that it will change who you are and how you see things… (you will) break down barriers…because today we are very globally connected and we have to make sure that we adapt… and that we apply it (cultural and language knowledge) properly,” said Halverson, addressing students who will be graduating this August after 64 weeks of intensive studies. With Army transformation plans in full swing reflecting the changing geopolitical and strategic environment, TRADOC is the leading Army organization that will be implementing the new concept of Regionally Aligned Forces with the combatant commands via its 32 schools and more than half a million Soldiers trained each year. “We have been at war for the last 12 years. It has been a war of the physical. …We are at that transition (time) here. In FY14 …we will have to be the Army of preparation....

New U.S. Citizens Sworn In

The United States has ten new citizens as of February 7th. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s faculty and their family members were sworn in during a Special Naturalization Ceremony, held at the Presidio of Monterey. The Institute’s commandant, Col. Danial D. Pick, delivered the opening remarks welcoming each new citizen and briefly describing their path towards American citizenship. Section Chief Anita Erfan, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, officiated the Oath of Allegiance, while USCIS officer Danilo Ayran, who was born in the Philippines, delivered keynote remarks about his own naturalization experience. This was the third such ceremony held at DLIFLC, which was preceded by a USCIS outreach event, held earlier that same day. During the event, USCIS officials were on hand to introduce those interested in becoming U.S. citizens to the process and to answer any general questions. During the one on one segment, attendees at the outreach event could ask USCIS officers personally relevant questions. Almost sixty DLIFLC faculty and staff took part in the outreach event. Story and photo credits Story by Dusan Tatomirovic, DLIFLC PAO 130207-A-1550S-001 DLIFLC Naturalization ceremony, at POM. Photo by Natela Cutter, DLIFLC...

DLIFLC commandant awarded Danish medal

The commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Col. Danial D. Pick, was awarded the Danish Armed Forces Medal for Special Meritorious Service by the Danish Royal Army Jan 30. The award was presented by Lt. Col. Nicolas T. Veicherts, the foreign language program director of the Royal Danish Defence College. The medal is typically awarded to civilians or military personnel who have done meritorious service to the betterment of the Danish Defence Forces. Veicherts visited DLIFLC with his colleague, Maj. Astrid Bjerregaard, to present the medal and tour DLIFLC facilities where four Danish soldiers are attending a 63-week Pashto language course, and seven others are attending a two-week special exchange Pashto immersion program. “This medal is given to Col. Danial Pick for his exceptional support to the Danish Armed Forces in facilitating and accomplishing the enrollment and integration of Danish military linguists into the Pashto language training program at DLIFLC,” said Veicherts. In 2007, as director of the Foreign Area Officer Program at DLIFLC, Pick was instrumental in supporting the Danish Armed Forces in their efforts to collaborate with the Institute to establish a Danish presence. As commandant of the Institute in 2010, Pick worked to solidify the relationship, which has led to the graduation of 24 Danish students from the Dari and Pashto courses since the inception of the program. “It is a pleasure to have Danish linguists study here especially because they are so talented and attain very high scores. I like to challenge our students by saying they have to learn Pashto or Dari just as well as the Danes because they are...

Sailor Combines Principles of Martial Arts Training to Everyday Life

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Sonie Lasker, a student assigned to the Center for Information Dominance Unit (CIDU) Monterey and attending the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), is the reigning Women’s World Martial Arts Champion and shares her knowledge, discipline and experience of the martial arts to fellow service members on and off the mat. Before joining the Navy in 2010, Lasker was the team captain of the United States Martial Arts Team. She competed in over 500 tournaments worldwide and was a 14-time world champion. Since arriving at DLIFLC, Lasker has taught many forms of martial arts to service members from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps five days a week at the Price Fitness Center on the Presidio of Monterey. Lasker trains service members in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and grappling. “Martial arts and life in the military go hand in hand,” Lasker said. “Martial arts are of high moral character and focus on the same core values as the Navy; honor, courage and commitment.” In addition to training in martial arts, Lasker maintains a 4.0 GPA in her foreign language class and spends after hours tutoring other students during separate study sessions throughout the week, including weekends. Lasker continually strives to help build unit cohesiveness and supports the morale of her fellow service members. “The responses that I’ve been receiving from the students here at DLIFLC, who come to my sessions [martial arts and tutoring], have been very humbling,” said Lasker. “I’m extremely appreciative of Petty Officer Lasker taking the time to help me understand how to read Farsi,” said Seaman...

AFRICOM general shares experience with FAOs

Maj. Gen. Charles W. Hooper, director of strategic plans and programs for the U.S. Africa Command, shared some of his life experiences with Foreign Area Officers stationed at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and the Naval Postgraduate School Tuesday. “There is no secret to success…do the best you can, take jobs that are fulfilling, don’t chase the rainbow and work as hard as you can,” said Hooper, to more than 100 officers and staff who attended the event. Hooper, who graduated from DLIFLC in May 1987 from the Chinese Mandarin Basic Course, has worked his way from an infantry second lieutenant to major general with AFRICOM, which aims to protect American interests on that continent and assist its countries in their own defense. “You need to be agile, flexible and responsive… and have a broad skill set because you may get an offer that requires universal skills,” he said, advising FAOs to stay abreast of current events regardless of their area of assignment. “You have to stay current and connected.” “Language is a window,” into the world of other cultures, he said. “If you can tell a joke and get them to laugh, that is success.” In addition to studying Chinese at DLIFLC, Hooper also studied Chinese at West Point, and was stationed in Beijing from 2007 to 2009 as U.S. Defense Department attaché. “You have to network and be sensitive to power relationships… and keep up with the people you meet,” said Hooper explaining that people he encountered earlier in his career who were interns or upstart business entrepreneurs later in life became assistant secretaries of...
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