St. Paul, Minn.Yevgeniya Berdysheva ’14, from Skokie, Ill. and Patrick Snyder ’13 from Versailles, Ky., have been awarded the U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study a critical language this summer.  Berdysheva will study Chinese, and Snyder will study Arabic.

These students are among the approximately 610 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s CLS Program in 2013. CLS participants will spend seven to ten weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in one of 13 countries to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. It provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences.  CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.  

Berdysheva will be in Chengdu, China, from June 12 – August 8, 2013, and will be immersed in intensive Chinese language programs. Snyder will be in Tangier, Morocco, from June 2 – August 8, 2013, and will be immersed in intensive Arabic language programs.  Both were placed in the advanced level. 

The CLS Program in Chengdu, China, provides an intensive 8-week language learning environment set in a large Southwestern metropolitan center. Chengdu combines 3,000 years of history with a cutting edge and large-scale high tech development zone, leisure life style with robust social energy, and rich Han Chinese culture with a wide range of ethnic minority cultures. Students receive a minimum of 20 hours per week of classroom instruction and participate in extensive community engagement activities. The CLS program in Chengdu incorporates a language policy that requires scholarship recipients to speak only Chinese during all program activities.

Berdysheva said she feels honored to have been accepted into this program. “I am lucky to partake in it this summer because it will fall conveniently after I finish 500 level Chinese with the CSI (Chinese Studies Institute) program at Beijing University this semester,” said Berdysheva.  “This will be a wonderful opportunity to stabilize my foundation in Chinese, which will be necessary especially after completing CSI. Chinese is a language where it is extremely easy to lose ground after mere days of neglect. For this reason, I am very grateful that CLS is providing me this opportunity.”

The CLS Arabic Program in Tangier, Morocco, provides an intensive language-learning environment. Students receive a minimum of 20 hours per week of formal classroom instruction by trained and experienced teachers. Fifteen hours per week are spent learning Modern Standard Arabic, while approximately five hours each week are spent on the local Maghrebi Arabic dialect, known as Darija. Classes focus on improving students’ skills in listening, reading, writing, speaking, and spoken interaction. Participants are also required to take part in organized semi-formal and informal learning activities that promote interaction with the host community and culture. These activities will support the formal classroom instruction.

This is Snyder’s second CLS scholarship.  “I’m looking forward to continuing to expand my Arabic abilities and learn more about North Africa,” said Snyder.  “I participated in CLS last summer in Tunisia and it was a tremendously challenging but rewarding experience. I know CLS is an intensive experience, but it’s designed to push you to the limits and, in doing so, help you find previously untapped reserves of confidence and perseverance.”

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,035 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at

March 28 2013

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