Two Franklin & Marshall College students have been selected for the U.S. Department of State's prestigious Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic abroad.
Sophomore Morgan Kincade, a religious studies major from Valhalla, N.Y., and junior Brenna Snyder, a psychology major from Downingtown, Pa., will study in Jordan and Morocco, respectively, this coming summer.
They are among the approximately 550 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship through the CLS Program this year, according to the State Department. Students selected for the program will spend between seven and 10 weeks in intensive language institutes in one of 13 countries to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu.
Kincade, who studies French and Arabic at F&M, said the CLS program will allow her to participate in two diverse immersion experiences.
"Learning Arabic has been a real challenge, and while I knew that I would spend a semester in France, I wanted to have an immersion experience with Arabic, as well," Kincade said. "This scholarship is enabling me to do that. I'm a religious studies major with a particular interest in Islam, so stronger Arabic skills will enhance my other academic pursuits."
Snyder, who like Kincade was encouraged to apply for the fellowship by her Arabic instructor, Arabic Language Teaching Fellow Kaley Keener, said the CLS program "offers me a financially feasible way to pursue my passion in Arabic and explore the culture I've learned so much about.
"Having never traveled abroad before, I'm sure it will be quite the experience," she said.
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.
Selected finalists for the 2014 CLS program come from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia and represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges. Franklin & Marshall Professor of Spanish & Linguistics Kim Armstrong, who with her colleagues hosted a lunch to inform students about the CLS Program, said the students "will really be able to push their language skills to a higher level" through the program and later share their experiences with other F&M students.
"I can't wait to hear about their trips upon their return, and of course, when we have the CLS information session next fall, we will have two alumni of the program to answer their questions," Armstrong said.
CLS Program participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education and The Ohio State University/Ohio University.