Marymount University alumna Stephanie Downing spent the summer studying Hindi in Jaipur, India, as an awardee of the 2019 U.S. Department of States Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program.
The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills in languages that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential for Americas engagement with the world, contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.
In 2019, Downing was one of only 550 competitively selected American students representing 233 colleges and universities across the U.S. to receive a CLS award. Each CLS scholar spent eight to 10 weeks in one of 26 locations studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.
The Critical Language Scholarship awarded me with the opportunity to not only expand my worldview, but to also promote positive foreign relations by communicating in my target language, Downing said. It was an absolute honor to represent Marymount and the United States in India this summer.
The program provides funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the U.S. abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries. Alumni of the program go on to continue their language study and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.
The application for the 2020 CLS Program is now available. Applications are due on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.