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517th Training Group celebrates Language Day

Students and faculty perform the Korean Fan Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Students learned and practiced traditional dances for months prior to Language Day.

Students and faculty perform the Korean Fan Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Students learned and practiced traditional dances for months prior to Language Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Wiley Barnes, 517th Training Group commander, provides closing remarks for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Language Day is the one day the general public can visit the Presideo of Monterey and learn about the mission and work done by DLIFLC.

U.S. Air Force Col. Wiley Barnes, 517th Training Group commander, provides closing remarks for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Language Day is the one day the general public can visit the Presidio of Monterey and learn about the mission and work done by DLIFLC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Students and faculty perform the Korean Fan Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. This was one of 48 performances that took place during Language Day that showcased various cultures and traditions throughout the world.

Students and faculty perform the Korean Fan Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. This was one of 48 performances that took place during Language Day that showcased various cultures and traditions throughout the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Students draw henna tattoos on visitors during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center's Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. In addition to performances on stage, students and faculty set up cultural tents showcasing cultural items, games and activities.

Students draw henna tattoos on visitors during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center's Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. In addition to performances on stage, students and faculty set up cultural tents showcasing cultural items, games and activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Airman 1st Class Neva Hendry, 311th Training Squadron trainee, performs the Levantine belly dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Hendry choreographed and taught the dance practicing for a month and a half before Language Day.

Airman 1st Class Neva Hendry, 311th Training Squadron trainee, performs the Levantine belly dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Hendry choreographed and taught the dance practicing for a month and a half before Language Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Students perform the Chinese Dragon Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. The Chinese Dragon Dance kicks off Language Day each year.

Students perform the Chinese Dragon Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. The Chinese Dragon Dance kicks off Language Day each year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Family of Russian Faculty adorn the Russian display booth on April 25, 1952 from the Army Language School festival. The Russian booth was the largest of the many booths on display at the festival.

Family of Russian Faculty adorn the Russian display booth on April 25, 1952 from the Army Language School festival. The Russian booth was the largest of the many booths on display at the festival. (Courtesy DLIFLC archives)

Cong Li, Defense Language Institute assistant Chinese professor, demonstrates how to write Chinese characters to Seaman Madelyn Nizenberger, Navy detachment trainee, during Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. In addition to dances, music, and cultural tents, Language Day also included classroom demonstrations.

Cong Li, Defense Language Institute assistant Chinese professor, demonstrates how to write Chinese characters to Seaman Madelyn Nizenberger, Navy detachment trainee, during Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. In addition to dances, music, and cultural tents, Language Day also included classroom demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Students perform a Japanese dance called, “Dance of the Coal Miners,” on April 25, 1952, during the Army Language School Festival, Presideo of Monterey, California. The current Language Day evolved from this celebration of language and cultures.

Students perform a Japanese dance called, “Dance of the Coal Miners,” on April 25, 1952, during the Army Language School Festival, Presidio of Monterey, California. The current Language Day evolved from this celebration of language and cultures. (Courtesy DLIFLC archives)

Students perform the Tagalog Magalatik Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. This was one of 48 performances that occurred throughout the day.
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Students perform the Tagalog Magalatik Dance during the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. This was one of 48 performances that occurred throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

Students from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center perform the Spanish flamenco dance the "Fire of Spain" during the DLIFLC Language Day at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Language Day's origins date back to April 25, 1952 when it was known as the Army Language School Festival.
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Students from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center perform the Spanish flamenco dance the "Fire of Spain" during the DLIFLC Language Day at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Language Day's origins date back to April 25, 1952 when it was known as the Army Language School Festival. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander and Col. Wiley Barnes, 517th Training Group commander discuss Language Day and the unique community opportunity to share in the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center's mission at the Presideo of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Mills was visiting from Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas.
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U.S. Air Force Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander and Col. Wiley Barnes, 517th Training Group commander discuss Language Day and the unique community opportunity to share in the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center's mission at the Presidio of Monterey, California, May 11, 2018. Mills was visiting from Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Aryn Lockhart/Released)

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. --

The 517th Training Group, in partnership with the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, celebrated 66 years of Language Day, May 11. The 517th TRG is part of the 17th Training Wing but remotely located and is integrated into the DLIFLC. 

“Language Day is the Defense Language Institute, Presidio of Monterey, equivalent of an air show,” said Col. Wiley Barnes, 517th TRG commander. “It’s an opportunity to show off. A lot of our students and our teachers are pouring their heart and soul into the teaching and learning in very small groups. That’s not seen by a lot of people. This is an opportunity to demonstrate the hard work and some of the fruits of the labor that happen behind the scenes in the classroom day in and day out.”

 Steeped in history, Language Day began April 25, 1952 and was known as the Army Language School Festival. The purpose of the event was to celebrate diversity of languages and cultures showcasing dances, skits and music from various countries. That purpose continues today and has grown exponentially. This year consisted of 48 performances by students and faculty on the main stage in addition to authentic food, culture tents and demonstrations.

  The 2018 Language Day was the largest to date with over 6,000 visitors from across the country. It is the one day the gates of the Presidio are open to the public where they can learn about the mission of DLIFLC. Many schools and students of all ages were bused to the event where they can learn more about world cultures.

  “DLI language day is the most beautiful, colorful event that we hold every year. It projects the true DLI. Students prepared for Language Day for the past four or five months and they learn the traditional dance, the traditional music and then they bring it out on the stage,” said Sameera Sharif, immersion language specialist, who has been emceeing Language Day for the past eight years.

  In one of the most rigorous and demanding schools of the U.S. Armed Forces, students are in class five days a week, six hours a day learning one of the 17 languages currently taught at DLIFLC. Classes vary in length from nine to 15 months. On top of their studies, preparing for Language Day occurs on the students’ own time.

  “We are in a pretty stressful program, and we get to let loose and remember that DLI is a whole community and it feels like you’re part of something bigger when you’re in this big melting pot of all of these different cultures,” said Airman 1st Class Neva Hendry, 311th Training Squadron trainee. Hendry choreographed and taught the students participating in the Levantine belly dance. She remarked upon how they practiced for a month and a half and watched as the students came into their own and gained confidence through dancing.

 With vibrant traditional outfits, authentic cultural foods, and the sounds of music from across the world, the day was filled with energy and cultural pride from the staff, faculty, and students of DLIFLC. Visitors were welcomed with open arms.

 “I think it’s great. The main thing is that I see people from different cultures doing the dances instead of just having people from each culture present their own. These young people are doing each other’s cultures and that is what I think is really good,” said Faye Collins-Hill a retired teacher and Monterey resident visiting Language Day for the first time.

  Col. Ricky Mills, 17th TRW commander, visited from Goodfellow Air Force Base to meet with the 517th TRG and experience Language Day. “It’s a good partnership with the community. They can come out and see what we do, exposing them to the different cultures and languages and hopefully, even inspire some of our next generation,” said Mills.