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Ask Away: 5 Questions for a Marine Cryptologic Linguist Learning Indonesian


We’re asking students, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…

Meet Jamison—a Marine from Montana who’s studied Spanish, French, and Indonesian!

"Ask Away: 5 Questions" banner with a photo of Jami in uniform and his mom

1. What was your first experience learning a language other than English—when did you start and how?

I first took a French one course in middle school, and I really enjoyed how foreign languages worked.

2. What inspired and motivated you to keep learning the language?

The fact that it wasn’t a class I was taking but rather an entire culture and spoken dialogue really motivated me to do better and learn to the best of my ability.

3. Have there been times you struggled with aspects of learning a new language, and how did you overcome them?

The hardest part is surrounding yourself with a language that isn’t spoken where you live. I’ve found it easier to overcome by studying vocab, trying to think in that language, and changing phone languages to the one I’m studying.

4. What role do language and cultural skills play in your current occupation?

Language and cultural skills is the essence of my job. I use these skills to gather intelligence on threats to our country. Without these language and culture skills I couldn’t do any of the requirements of my job.

Jami in uniform with his arm around his mother
Jami and his mom
5. Could you share with us a favorite conversation or moment that took place in another language—why is it special or memorable to you?

My favorite moment speaking in a foreign language is when I went to Paris with my family for a few days. I ordered food in French for my family and it seemed everyone was impressed!

BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite word or expression in another language?

As of right now, my favorite word in Indonesian is din-ding, which means “wall.” Indonesian has this wonderful system of pluralizing words, so “walls” is just din-ding din-ding.

What’s next for Jami?

As part of his U.S. Marine training, he plans to continue his study of Indonesian in Monterey and see where the adventure leads!


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