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Students, Alumnae to Study Around the World on Critical Language Scholarship
Four Syracuse University students and alumnae have been selected as recipients of the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship and are traveling to points around the globe this summer to immerse themselves in language study.
They are Samar Al-Any ’19 (Arts and Sciences), who will be studying Turkish in Azerbaijan; Neil Cooney, a graduate student in the creative writing M.F.A. program in the College of Arts and Sciences, who will be studying Korean in the Republic of Korea; Kayleigh Sattler, a rising senior majoring in biology and French and Francophone studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, who will study Swahili in Tanzania; and Cynthia Wang ’19 (Arts and Sciences/Maxwell/Newhouse), who will study Azerbaijani in Azerbaijan.
The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American graduate and undergraduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Some 550 students spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages—Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. The program is fully funded and includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.
CLS, a program of the U.S. Department of State, is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.
Al-Any’s placement will help her to enhance her Turkish language skills. “Being a recipient of this scholarship means a great deal to me,” she says. “I am happy to be going this summer to learn more about the culture and the language.”
Al-Any has a personal connection with the Turkish language—it was the language that her grandmother spoke. “For me she began it all,” she says. “I hope that she is proud of me and happy that one of her grandchildren is learning more about her language.”
Cooney will be placed in Gwangju in the Republic of Korea to study Korean. “I taught English as a second language in Korea for two years and fell in love with the language, especially Hangul, Korea’s writing system; the writers Lee Kiho and Jung Mikyung; and the artist Lee Ungno. I look forward to going back and focusing, this time, on studying Korean language, arts and culture, rather than on teaching.”
He hopes to be able to read Korean literature in the original form for himself. “I’m already working, very slowly, on translating some of Lee Kiho’s untranslated texts. I’m certain to keep pursuing that. But I consider myself fortunate to remain, for now, simply fascinated by the language and intent on cracking the code for its own sake,” he says.
Sattler will study in Arusha, Tanzania. It is a coming home of sorts for her, as she studied abroad in Arusha last fall and had a great experience learning about the country and connecting with her host families.
“I love the importance of community and the generosity of the people I met while in Tanzania, and I look forward to returning to improve my language skills,” she says. “The CLS program will strengthen my Swahili and allow me to form more connections in Tanzania, which I hope to use in a law career focused on environmental or international law, possibly with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.”
Wang will focus on the language spoken by the Azeri, the people living mainly in the Iranian region of Azerbaijan and the sovereign Republic of Azerbaijan.
“The Caucasus region has long been a source of personal and academic interest to me,” says Wang. “The CLS is a good opportunity for me to learn more about the region.”
The students worked with the University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA) to prepare their applications. “The CLS is an extraordinary opportunity for students to make rapid linguistic gains in a critical need language and to immerse themselves in the culture of their host country,” says Jolynn Parker, director of CFSA. “I’m so pleased Samar, Neil, Kayleigh and Cynthia will benefit from this experience.”
Applications for the 2019-20 cycle of Critical Language Scholarships will be due in late November. Interested students should contact CFSA for more information: 315.443.2759; firstname.lastname@example.org.