JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO–LACKLAND, Texas —
Each year the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland graduates a certain number of students who leave the academy with an added bonus that will assist them in future international endeavors.
IAAFA recently completed its English language course taught to students interested in expanding their knowledge. The course is offered three times a year and is in big demand, according to Tech Sgt. Alfredo Miranda Rosales, 837th Training Squadron and IAAFA Training Management and Development flight chief.
“I think that when we talk about a common language in the Western Hemisphere, it just helps what we call inter-operability,” said Miranda Rosales.
Not every student is able to take the English language course. It is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis and it fills up fast. Approximately 60 out of 300 students attending each semester are selected after being interviewed and given a written test.
The course is taught by volunteers from across JBSA-Lackland, 44 volunteers this past year. Students take the class two hours a night, 15 evenings during the semester, after they have completed their technical courses during the day.
“What they do in the classroom during the day further expands it at night by exposing them to a little bit more Inter-Americanism,” said Miranda Rosales.
Airman Laura Mendez Murcia was one of them. The Colombian aircraft technician student completed the course in December 2017.
“The English course is necessary because I am a student now and I can put this certificate in my records and this can open doors in the future,” said Mendez Murcia.
Her class consisted of learning the language basics, but it was also customized to fit her technical training course she was taking.
“In my course, all the technical manuals were in English,” said Mendez Murcia who spent a lot of time in her class speaking English. “If you want to learn English, you have to practice it and make it part of you.”
The volunteers who teach the course assist students whose knowledge proficiency ranges from knowing the basics of the English language to others who are more advanced in their understanding of English.
“I think the student is grateful to be able to be exposed to the language and be able to hear native speakers and the lingo that some of them use,” said Miranda Rosales.
Each student could be doing something else after class with their time, Miranda Rosales adds, but they know the benefits a course like this brings to them.
While it’s not always an easy road to maneuver, it is definitely worth it.
“I encourage you to go out of your comfort zone,” he said.
The learning still continues well after the students return to their native countries.
“I have to practice with the computer, books and my friends,” said Mendez Murcia.
Miranda Rosales said they are always looking for new volunteers but added many of their past instructors keep volunteering.
“[The instructors] realize how important it is to have a language that can communicate across the seas,” he said, adding both instructor and student benefit from the experience.
If you are interested in volunteering, Miranda Rosales can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.