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Airman helps others learn English

455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Published: 06:01PM June 12th, 2014

Seventeen years ago, a young Kenyan girl and her family embarked on a 7,000-mile journey to America; they hoped for a better life, a brighter future and the opportunity to succeed.

She did not speak English and had no idea what to expect from the country she would soon call home. Despite the struggle to overcome the cultural and language barriers, the little girl, now Staff Sgt. Linette Nosim, persevered. Now, years later, Nosim is deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and helps others learn the language that once was a challenge for her.

“Everything was new to me. I grew up in a town with no running water,” said Nosim, who is deployed to the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “I cried myself to sleep sometimes because it was a lot to take in, but even at a young age I knew I had to learn in order to succeed.”

Nosim moved to America at 9 and quickly learned how to speak English by reading, attending summer school and watching television to hide her accent so other children wouldn’t make fun of her.

“The teachers were not patient with me. I didn’t want to hold the class up so I stopped asking questions,” Nosim said. “I wanted to learn as much as I could. I knew I had to overcome the challenge somehow.”

Within a year, she adjusted and made progress at school. She moved, changed schools, made new friends and excelled both in middle and high school.

After graduation she joined the Air Force, deployed and experienced different countries and cultures. An active volunteer, Nosim jumped at the opportunity to teach English. The Korean Vocational Training Center at Bagram Airfield allows her to dedicate time to the Afghan community.

Afghan students learn the basics of the English language because of Nosim and other volunteers. She is one of about 40 who dedicate three hours a week to teach English to the Afghan students. She aims at language skills to help her students learn trades to become electricians, welders and construction workers.

“To be able to help someone with one of the biggest struggles I had to face is very rewarding,” she said. “Not only do I get to help them learn English, but we also get to build a relationship with members from the Afghan community.”

Although Nosim works 12-hour days, six days a week, she finds time to volunteer.

“Staff Sergeant Nosim seems very dedicated in everything she does,” said Senior Master Sgt. Felica Young, 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron delta flight superintendent. “She always has the attitude to bring others along. You can also see that in her volunteering efforts.”

“Our philosophy is not just to come here and do our job, but make this place better and Nosim has that desire to help,” Young said. “She is helping the Afghans do better for themselves and their families.”

Nosim believes English language skills can improve her Afghan students’ quality of life by helping them find jobs on base and network with people can help them.

“Here, we get to see a direct impact,” she said. “I am able to work one on one with them and experience the appreciation they have for us. The Afghan students have an open mind when we teach and they want to learn all they can from us.”

She guides her students through textbook lectures and conversations about culture. As the lessons draw to a close, Nosim discusses their goals and shares her struggles with learning English.

“Communication is important in all relationships,” she said. “The first step for these young students is to be able to communicate with us and understand we are here to help them. It is important for us to help break that language barrier and partner with our Afghan community.”