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In Learning a Foreign Language, Being There Makes All the Difference

Published May 9, 2017 in News

By: Matt Kelly | University Communications

Five University of Virginia scholars will spend the summer immersed in foreign cultures and languages, thanks to the Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. Department of State.

They are among approximately 550 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received scholarships from the program. They will spend seven to 10 weeks this summer in intensive language institutes in one of 13 countries, studying languages the U.S. government has deemed “critical”: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

UVA’s participants are:

  • Brooks Anderson of Centreville, a second-year global development studies and English major who will study Swahili in Arusha, Tanzania
  • Natalie Browning of Round Hill, a third-year student double-majoring in history and South Asian studies and working toward a Master of Teaching in secondary history education at the Curry School of Education, who will study Urdu in Lucknow, India;
  • Trevor Shealy of Charlotte, North Carolina, a third-year global development studies and Middle Eastern studies major, who will study Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan;
  • Margaret Turner of Stafford, a third-year Middle Eastern studies major, who will study Arabic in Ibri, Oman; and
  • Joshua Zabin of Ashburn, a first-year Chinese and Middle Eastern studies major, who will study Indonesian in Malang, East Java.

The Critical Language Scholars program provides group-based, intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. Participants, who are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers, hail from 49 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the United States.

“I think it is great that these five students will be furthering their understanding of Arabic, Indonesian, Persian, Swahili and Urdu,” said Andrus G. Ashoo, associate director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “With as many students studying critical languages as we have, I think many more at the University of Virginia should pursue this fully funded opportunity to further their language learning. There are not many opportunities to develop such linguistic competency in such a short amount of time.”

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