“ Thanks to LEAP, I felt confident conversing in Filipino when we met up with Philippine key leaders at the US Ambassador’s house and discussed political and military concerns shared by both countries. Highlight of the night was former President Fidel Ramos unexpectedly showing up!”

AFCLC: What was your motivation for joining LEAP?

McGinnis: Maintain proficiency. I had a language skill that I hadn’t used in such a long time before joining LEAP. I was at SOS at Maxwell, and one of my flightmates said he had language training in Italian. Curious, I asked him about this program and the rest is history.

AFCLC: Where do you see your career going from here and is LEAP opening doors to support your aspiration that may not have been opened otherwise?

McGinnis: It’s really where the Air Force takes me, right? But I do feel that because of LEAP, I continue to hone my skills as an Intelligence Officer while at the same time, being more equipped to maintain and build more relationships with our Asia-Indo-Pacific partners especially with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. At Special Operations Command, Pacific, we build trust through our relationships and my two-star understood the importance of the perspective I bring to the table; it is more than just speaking the language but more so knowing the cultural context in which we operate in. And that it something you can’t learn from any text book.

AFCLC: So, nothing specific comes to mind?

McGinnis: Being an Air Attaché at US Embassy Manila will be a dream come true. Coincidentally, LEAP sent me to the Embassy for an Advanced LITE right after the Mamasapano clash in Southern Philippines. I learned how the Embassy worked while re-immersing myself in the culture.

AFCLC: What skill level did you have when you entered our program and where are you assessed now?

McGinnis: I was a 3/3 coming into the program. I am still a 3/3, but a much different one, a much more confident 3/3. I took my OPI for the first time two years ago because I didn’t have the confidence to take it before. Fortunately, I’ve had awesome instructors during my eMentor training who challenged me a lot.

AFCLC: Would you have identified yourself to the Air Force as having language skills (DLPT test) without LEAP?

McGinnis: Yes, I would but I would be more hesitant to volunteer myself to deploy if asked. LEAP definitely gave me a boost of confidence.

AFCLC: Wow, amazing. You are an asset to LEAP, your squadron, and those serving with you in the future.

McGinnis: Thank you! I only want to help in any way I know how. My unit is always looking for speakers because we want to further SOF relationships in our AOR. I’ve told them about LEAP and the pool of talented people we have. It is definitely encouraging that something I think was not important is making a great impact to US-Philippine bilateral relations. Thanks, LEAP!