Education is more than reading textbooks inside of a classroom. Through the Critical Language Scholarship, three Colorado State University students were given the resources to not only learn material, but to live it.
The Critical Language Scholarship is a government-funded scholarship that allows them to travel abroad to various destinations and study non-traditional language. Elizabeth Hale, Jenna Hamilton and Kelli Wick are the three CSU students who received this scholarship.
Hale, a senior studying international studies said she will be traveling to Amman, the capital of Jordan and is looking forward to this two-month-long experience where she will have the opportunity to study Arabic as well as experience the Arab culture.
“I was in Amman last summer doing study abroad and I just really loved it. I’m really excited to be going back to that city. I feel incredibly lucky,” Hale said. “We don’t choose where we go, we just choose the language, so I had no say in where I was going to go, but I got sent back to the place that I wanted to go the most.”
Hale said she is excited to stay with a host family and get to know what daily life is like in Amman.
According to Hale, immersing herself in the culture and becoming fluent with formal and informal Arabic dialect are some of her aspirations for this trip.
“I think it’s really important what the government is doing and what the scholarship is doing to encourage people to learn to speak the non-traditional or non-European languages that most people have absolutely no experience with,” Hale said. “I think it’s really great that it’s an incentive for people to start looking at other countries and other regions for potential language skills because we are pretty narrow-minded in our focus right now in what languages are useful to learn.”
Wick, a senior studying anthropology, will be traveling to Arusha Tanzania, which is located in East Africa. She said this scholarship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Arusha is sitting at the base of Mount Meru, which is basically the little brother of Mount Kilimanjaro,” Wick said. “I’m so excited to get to experience all of the nature, people and the language.”
Wick said she chose to apply for this scholarship because it would give her a chance to learn Swahili.
“We don’t offer Swahili as a language here at CSU and, for me, I really want to work in Africa, so having those experiences and the language itself were really valuable to me,” Wick said.
According to Wick, it would be beneficial for people to learn more about different cultures and languages.
“I think it’s really important that Americans learn more non-traditional languages because it’s important to be more diversified,” Wick said. “The world is becoming more globalized and we are coming into contact with more people from all over the globe. A lot of times we have perceptions of Africa and these other cultures that aren’t true and are often demeaning or harmful. My hope is to work in Africa or with African cultures just breaking down colonial legacies in that area and development in that context, particularly with education.”
Hamilton, a senior studying international studies, is hoping to make significant improvements in her Russian after she travels this summer to Nizhny Novgorod, a town in Russia. Hamilton said that this scholarship will help lead to a more diversified world in the future and encourages other students to apply in the future.
“It’s not just foreign language majors that can apply. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a traditional, internationally-focused major — still apply,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that it’s important for people to become more knowledgeable about other countries in order to expand their horizons.
“I think a lot of times we kind of get in a box and forget that there’s other things out there,” Hamilton said. “We come to think that our way is the only way of doing something, but then when you travel to these countries that are very different culturally, it really opens your mind and makes you appreciate what you have.”
Collegian Reporter Pamela Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @pb_shapiro.