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Cultural and Language Center expands Air Force-wide

Posted 12/7/2007   Updated 12/7/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by Ashley M. Wright
Air University Public Affairs


12/7/2007 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Air University's Culture and Language Center is beginning an evolutionary change toward becoming an Air Force-wide institution focusing on culture and language.

Beginning next year, the center's mission will expand to include service-wide responsibilities as it becomes the Air Force Culture and Language Center.

Officials are developing a memorandum of agreement between Air Force Headquarters and Air University to initiate the transition, according Dr. Dan Henk, director of Air University's Culture and Language Center. The center will then collaborate with other Air Force agencies working culture and language-related issues while slowly adapting to mission requirements so not to take on too much too quickly.

Deciding which programs to implement upon hiring necessary leadership could push completion of the evolutionary change into the early months of 2008. The biggest challenge, however, is training an entire Air Force as the center prepares to deploy to various locations, Dr. Henk said. Preparing Airmen for visits to the Middle East, NCOs for temporary duty in Southeast Asia, and aircrew members to deploy to Central America is a sample of things to come for the center on a continuous basis.

Three primary focuses of the center are building cross-cultural competence, providing regional familiarity and facilitating language study. It does not seek to make every Airman a linguist, Dr. Henk said.

Cross-cultural competence curriculum affects the Air Force and the nation in times of peace and war, center officials said. Being able to understand how others think and act is vital to expeditionary Air Force operations ranging from combat to humanitarian aid missions.

"We don't have all the answers yet to what constitutes cross-cultural competence," the doctor said. "It will become a set of tools that can be applied through education at all levels of service to better equip folks to communicate, build relationships, negotiate and to influence others they deal with by understanding those culture-related (differences) of the people they work with."

Air University originally established the Culture and Language Center in March 2006 to incorporate cultural education and language training into professional military education.



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