by Cheryl Smithem
Two College of Charleston students will continue their study of Hindi and Arabic through the Critical Languages Scholarship Program from the U.S. Department of State. Elizabeth Marjorie Burdette and Madeline Edwards will study abroad in 2013 improving their language skills in Hindi and Arabic, respectively.
The College’s Associate Provost for International Education Professor Andrew Sobiesuo asserts: “The College of Charleston is committed to infusing global perspectives in the curriculum and study abroad is one of the best avenues to accomplish that. The Center for International Education and other campus entities such as the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships work together to inform students of scholarship opportunities and guide them through the application process.”
Sobiesuo continues, “The study of any language and particularly a critical language is not only an academic achievement but a national security necessity. Language study is the vehicle to discovering and comprehending the soul of the other. And the more we as a nation can understand our allies (and enemies alike) and communicate directly with them, the more we can boast of our stature as a world power.”
Burdette will be studying Hindi at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur and residing with a host family. She remarked that the award is, “a long-awaited open door for me. I’ve been studying Hindi and Indian culture for two years now. I surprised myself by falling completely in love with both the language and the culture, and I have wanted the opportunity to see practical use of my knowledge in a way that will have a meaningful impact on who I am and what I want to become.”
When asked about how she wishes to use her College studies, Burdette said she hopes to work in the field of “social justice issues and asset-based community development in India, particularly in advocating for women’s equality in India and working with women who are at high risk of being trafficked into the sex industry.” She states “Hindi language skills will be essential if I’m going to live and work there.”
College faculty member Leena Karambelkar who teaches Hindi, said of Burdette, “She is an extremely bright student. I am honored to have her in class and feel happy that I could help her in realizing her dreams. I am sure, this bright young leader is going to enlighten many lives, and show path to many less fortunate and continue the great American humanitarian traditions.”
After only two semesters enrolled in Arabic at the College, Edwards, will be studying at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan. She is looking forward to her summer studies because they will allow her to “learn the Jordanian dialect.” She says this is useful because the Modern Standard Arabic learned in the classroom is not the same as colloquial Arabic spoken in real life. Edwards will be living with a Jordanian host family which provides a full, immersion language experience.
Fam, an adjunct instructor of Arabic says , “I strive to create a welcoming atmosphere in my classroom. When students begin studying Arabic they have no knowledge of the language or alphabet. Everyone starts from the same place.’”
In the future Edwards has thoughts of “working for human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International to expose the plights of marginalized groups and people in the Middle East.”
A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes in thirteen critical foreign languages. The selection process is administered by American Council for International Education with awards approved by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.
For more information about the College’s Center for International Education, visit the website.