Connor Boyle will study Chinese in Changchun, China


Allison Brady will study Arabic in Ibri, Oman


Lea Davidson will study Swahili in Arusha, Tanzania


Jordana Palmer will study Chinese in Tainan, Taiwan


Carolyn Siegman will study Korean in Busan, South Korea


Anna Steele will study Russian in Tbilisi, Georgia

St. Paul, Minn. – Connor Boyle ’17, from Seattle, Wash., Allison Brady ’19, from Cincinnati, Ohio, Lea Davidson ’18, from Walla Walla, Wash., Jordana Palmer ’18, from Kingston, Jamaica, Carolyn Siegman ’18, from Germantown, Wis., and Anna Steele ’18, from lake Elmo, Minn., are six of 578 finalists from over 230 institutions of higher education across the United States who have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) to study critical languages this summer.

CLS provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu.

The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

“Critical” languages are those that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential for America’s engagement with the world. CLS plays an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce, increasing American competitiveness, and contributing to national security. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries.

Connor Boyle ’17, from Seattle, Wash., will study Chinese in Changchun, China. Boyle started studying Chinese out of a general interest in language-learning and history. “Knowing Chinese has allowed me to read both primary and secondary sources that I otherwise wouldn’t even have been aware of, as well as research regions and time periods that would’ve been inaccessible,” said Boyle. “Studying Chinese has led me into a lot of great friendships with Chinese speakers that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have made.” In the fall, Boyle will be enrolling in a master’s program in East Asian Studies at Yale. Eventually, he hopes to get a PhD in History.

Allison Brady ’19, from Cincinnati, Ohio, will study Arabic in Ibri, Oman. Arabic proficiency is important for Brady’s short and long-term goals. “During my time at Macalester, I have had the opportunity to work with local refugee communities and resettlement organizations,” said Brady, “and I look forward to bringing language skills back to these communities during my remaining time in Minnesota.” After she finishes her CLS, Brady wants to continue working in refugee assistance locally, and after graduation, she hopes to work in this field abroad before pursuing a graduate program.

Lea Davidson ’18, from Walla Walla, Wash., will study Swahili in Arusha, Tanzania.  Davidson studied abroad in Zanzibar while she was at Macalester and “loved the experience.” Though she learned some Swahili while there, she’d wants to pursue fluency. “I’m interested in working in east Africa in the future, specifically in water management or agriculture, and for that Swahili proficiency is crucial,” she said. As for the future, Davidson hopes to work in hydrology or soil science and go to graduate school, likely studying one of those two areas.

Jordana Palmer ’18, from Kingston, Jamaica, will study Chinese in Tainan, Taiwan. “Since many of the cultures and countries in the world are affected by Western media and culture, studying Chinese opens my eyes to another part of the world, introduces me to another group of people, and makes me pay attention to another global giant that is affecting politics in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean,” Palmer said. She looks forward to exploring Tainan and communicating with the locals and her host family. And although she has already studied abroad in China, she likes the idea of staying in this new location to deepen her understanding of the Chinese language and culture. In the future, Palmer would like to work in energy policy in Minnesota, and after that, pursue a master’s degree in either public policy or international development.

Carolyn Siegman ’18, from Germantown, Wis., will study Korean in Busan, South Korea. Siegman majored in linguistics and believes that learning another language is a gateway to learning about other people and their experiences. “Learning another language automatically introduces you to a different way of thinking and different aspects of the language’s culture,” she said, “and this connects people of different backgrounds and facilitates understanding between them.”  After this summer, she plans to teach English in South Korea for a year.

Anna Steele ’18, from lake Elmo, Minn., will study Russian in Tbilisi, Georgia. Steele thinks having more American speakers of Russian is critical to facilitating intercultural exchange and to working toward transcending the antagonistic legacy between the U.S. and Russia. “As Russian-American tensions only continue to grow, having the ability to speak Russian will become paramount to bridging the ever-widening culture gap between our countries, giving me the ability to understand the nuances of a political and social system different from our own,” she said.

In the future, Steele wants to work within the space sector to one day help facilitate international collaboration in space research and design projects between the U.S. and Russia. For the immediate future, she would like to work in a hostel on the west coast of Ireland, and then travel the world.

Since 2006, CLS has awarded scholarships to more than 5,700 American students to learn critical languages around the world. CLS scholars are among the more than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education.

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June 21 2018

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