Three Asian Cultures and Language Majors Awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Thu, May 22, 2014

Steven Burt (Korean), Alexandra Estrella (Japanese), and Benjamin Wollam (Chinese) have all been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study abroad during the summer of 2014. They are among the approximately 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s CLS Program to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu languages. U.S. students will spend seven to ten weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in 14 countries where these languages are spoken. The CLS Program provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

The U.S. Department of State launched the Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas. The program is part of a wider U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical languages.

CLS Program participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Steven, who was recently accepted into the Asian Studies Honors program, also won the Critical Language Scholarship in 2013. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he will return to South Korea this summer. Steven plans to apply for graduate school next year and hopes to eventually work for the federal government. Alexandra will spend the summer at a language institute in Japan; upon her return, she will start her Masters in Communication Science and Disorders. She intends to apply her language skills to bilingual assessment research in the CSD field. Ben is headed for China this summer and when he returns, he will be working with the ACE program through AmeriCorps as a Bilingual Early Literacy Tutor. A 2014 graduate, Ben received Honorable Mention as a Dean’s Distinguished Graduate.

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