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Face of Defense: Airman Finds Success Speaking 6 Languages

By Air Force Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
6th Air Mobility Wing

TAMPA, Fla., June 24, 2014 – University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Edward Lee Gorsuch once said, “Learning a foreign language not only reveals how other societies think and feel, what they have experienced and value, and how they express themselves, it also provides a cultural mirror in which we can more clearly see our own society.”

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Airman LadyCiara Eime, born and raised in the Philippines, speaks six languages: Cebuano, Tagalog, Chavacano, Mandarin, English and Nihongo. U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

For Air Force Senior Airman LadyCiara Eime, 6th Comptroller Squadron command support staff, learning languages has become second nature.

Eime was born and raised in the Philippines, speaking Tagalog as the household language. Her parents, both from different cultural backgrounds, widened her vocabulary to Cebuano and Chavacano, the native tongues of her father, and Mandarin, her mother’s native language.

While growing up, Eime said, she dreamed of coming to the United States and fulfilling the American dream, so she began to save her money. Her parents encouraged her to invest her money and time in education, she added, because once that was complete, the possibilities for their little girl were endless.

“I always wanted to learn about different cultures, and I love to travel,” she said, noting that her parents instilled in her that a higher education is the only wealth that cannot be stolen or taken away.

“My parents always told me that people who know more about other cultures are knowledgeable and know their way around life,” she said. “Learning their language is the best weapon you can use to battle the challenges that life may bring you.”

With the small amount of money she saved and with help from the Philippine president and an American telecommunications company, Eime earned a bachelor’s degree in international business administration and graduated with honors.

After graduation, though she did not speak English, a telecommunications company moved Eime to St. Louis, where she worked for a few years until an American motor company offered her a job as a trainer-supervisor, and she traveled to call centers in the Philippines, India and China in that capacity. But when the company downsized in 2007, Eime lost her job.

Eime said she did not know a single word of English when she came to the United States. Her husband, who had served in the Navy, learned Tagalog and helped her learn English. Within a year, she said, she was able to have conversations with people without using her Tagalog-English dictionary.

“Learning different languages is the main key for you to understand their culture and will help you deal with different types of people with different personalities where you can work together to succeed,” she said. When her husband received orders to Japan, Eime immersed herself in the Japanese culture and learned Nihongo.

In March 2011, Eime decided to join the Air Force. A week after meeting with a recruiter, she was off to basic training, and ultimately she was assigned as a personnel specialist.

“Knowing six different languages has definitely enhanced my Air Force career,” Eime said. “It has allowed me to relate with the diversity of people in the military, as well as see problems and solutions from different perspectives. These perspectives are accompanied by the heuristics that define how individuals search for solutions, which strengthens our force.”

Eime said she hopes to earn a commission. She is waiting to hear if she’s been accepted for an enlisted-to-commissioning program for nursing.

“Growing up in a family of languages has been a major stepping stone in my success,” Eime said. “Through perseverance and hard work, I was able to fulfill my ultimate goal of living the American dream.”


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