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Three U. of I. Students Receive Critical Language Scholarships

By Steve Witmer, News Bureau Director

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships to study a foreign language this summer. The Critical Language Scholarship 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. During the past 10 years, the program has sent over 5,000 American undergraduate and graduate students overseas to learn critical languages. Each CLS participant spends eight to 10 weeks in one of 24 locations studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

The three Illinois participants:

Elizabeth Bastian, of Royal Oak, Michigan, will study Arabic at the Jordan Language Academy in Amman, Jordan. Her 20 hours of language instruction each week will be augmented by a stay with a host family for the duration of the two-month summer program.  Bastian earned a bachelor’s degree in 2013 from the University of Michigan at Dearborn in urban and regional studies and anthropology and a Master’s of Urban Planning from Illinois in May 2016. She received a Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarship to study Arabic at Illinois for the 2015-16 academic year.  For a career, Bastian plans to consult either within the Middle East or for a policy-oriented think tank regarding Islamic relations.

Mitchell Margolis, of Boca Raton, Florida, will spend two months in Baku, Azerbaijan, studying intensive Turkish this summer at the Azerbaijan University of Languages.  Margolis, a master’s candidate in urban planning, has previously received FLAS scholarships to support his instruction in Turkish.  Margolis focuses his studies on economic development policy, specifically how social ties at the neighborhood level lead to employment opportunities. He spent the past year at Humboldt University in Berlin investigating these questions with Turkish immigrants. After graduation, Margolis plans to work as a community development consultant or a policymaker in a Turkish community in the U.S.

James Warning, of Quincy, Illinois, will further his Persian language skills in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, for eight weeks this summer. He will receive formal language instruction for 20 hours per week, be placed with a host family, and be provided a local language partner to facilitate his use of Persian.  Warning is a junior in linguistics, with advanced skills in Arabic gained from the Defense Language Institute and intermediate skills in Persian and Turkish from his time at Illinois. After graduating in spring 2017, Warning hopes to pursue further studies related to Central Asia and the Middle East. An Army veteran, Warning plans to continue his public service career within the U.S. Foreign Service.

Reposted from Illinois News Bureau - May 27, 2016.