U.Va. Students Receive Scholarships for Overseas Language Studies

April 11, 2012 — Eight University of Virginia students are among approximately 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who will go overseas this summer to study languages with Critical Language Scholarships from the United States Department of State.

These students will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes and in cultural immersion in countries where these languages are spoken. Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

The students are:

Rukhaiya Amir, 20, of St. Charles, Mo., a second-year South Asian language and literature major in the College of Arts & Sciences, who will study advanced Urdu in Lucknow, India.

Ben Bissell, 20, of Fairfax Station, a third-year politics honors and Russian language and literature major in the College, who will study advanced Russian in Vladimir, Russia.

James Duke, 19, of Sterling, a first-year student in the College, who will study Urdu in Lucknow, India, in a program hosted by American Institute of India Studies.

Caroline Gonya, 21, of Baltimore, a third-year interdisciplinary studies major in the College, who will study advanced Hindi in Jaipur, India.

Anna Morgan Lewis, 21, of Norfolk, a third-year foreign affairs and Middle Eastern studies double major, with a French minor, in the College, who will study Arabic in North Africa.

Natasha L. Mikles, 25, of Murrells Inlet, S.C., a first-year doctoral student in religious studies focusing on Sino-Tibetan Buddhism, in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, who will study advanced Chinese in Beijing.

Daniel Ng, 19, of West Windsor, N.J., a first-year student in the College planning to major in statistics and global development studies, who will study beginning Bangla in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

John Joseph Vater, 21, of Oklahoma City, a third-year modern studies in English and South Asian studies major in the College, who will study advanced Urdu in Lucknow, India.

"I am delighted that so many U.Va. students have been selected for this wonderful program," said Lucy Russell, director of U.Va.'s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. "The opportunity to study these languages intensively in the countries where they are spoken is unmatched."

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of the U.S. government's effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Its institutes provide fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for U.S. citizen undergraduate and graduate students studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.

Nationally, those selected for the 2012 program hail from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and represent 239 institutions of higher education nationwide.

– by Matt Kelly

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