Following a year abroad under the NSLI-Y scholarship, many students incorporate their target language or passion in a host culture into future studies and opportunities. Here are highlights from three NSLI-Y alumni who are using their skills learned abroad to pursue fellowships, jobs, and further study abroad.
Noah studied Turkish on the 2014-2015 NSLI-Y academic year program in Izmir, Turkey. Noah attributes his strong interest in the country and language to its “continued relevance and importance,” as well as his “hope for a career in more active and academic diplomacy.” He sees Turkey as “a place where more active engagement is vital to regional and global security and stability.” Noah is now pursuing a BA in International Studies from American University and working as a communications consultant at PAAIA. Recently he was awarded an American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) Summer Fellowship for Intensive Advanced Turkish Language at Boğaziçi University. The program is a scholarship for eight weeks of intensive advanced study of Turkish language and culture at Boğaziçi in Istanbul.
Noah says that “the program is built to transform advanced students into fluent and knowledgeable speakers and writers capable of research, colloquial speech, and academic communications skills.” Speaking of the language and cultural knowledge and skills he developed during his NSLI-Y experience, he said, “cultural skills help with life here and at Bogazici University and communicating with Turkish students. I live near Taksim downtown and organize all of my needs entirely independently using Turkish from my NSLI-Y experience.”
Emily participated in both the NSLI-Y summer (2013) and academic year (2014-2015) programs studying Mandarin Chinese. She is now a student at the University of Virginia, where she plans to major in Foreign Affairs with a minor in East Asian Studies, and hopes to study abroad in China again.
This summer, Emily began working at The University of Maryland’s Office of China Affairs, which works with Chinese and American partners to strengthen institutions, advance knowledge of best practices, and facilitate collaboration between American and Chinese government officials, scholars, and professionals working in the public interest. One of her primary assignments this summer is the Global Leadership Program, which brings young professionals, undergraduate and graduate students from China to the US “to learn about the global competencies necessary to effect sustainable changes in an increasingly diverse, rapidly changing, and interdependent society.”
About the opportunity, Emily said “it’s a great opportunity for me to practice my Chinese language skills and interact with government officials, professors, and rising young leaders from China. I think that having this kind of multi-lingual work experience will be useful when I am looking for greater career opportunities. I’m also gaining experience in facilitating international exchange and cooperation, which I believe is a big part of diplomatic efforts on a person-to-person level.”When asked about the role her NSLI-Y experiences played in her pursuing this position, she said the following: “My NSLI-Y experience definitely played a huge role in helping me get this job. I have not only the language proficiency, but also the cultural awareness that’s necessary when working with Chinese clients. When I was interviewing for the position, having such an experience at such a young age definitely added to my resume.”
Jaylen (pictured above), a NSLI-Y alumnus from Georgia, participated in the 2015-2016 academic year program in Seoul, South Korea. While in Korea, he discovered how much he loved being immersed in the culture and language and determined that he wanted to live in Korea longer. Fortuitously, he met two NSLI-Y alumni who had returned to Korea to study at Yonsei University. This encouraged Jaylen to apply to the Underwood International College (UIC) at Yonsei. "My NSLI-Y experience gave me the confidence to even apply to a university like Yonsei. It taught me how to accept my mistakes and that people will always be there to help me grow and achieve my goals."
UIC is a four-year liberal arts institution that combines the American-style liberal arts college with faculty and resources of one of Korea’s private research universities. He was accepted to UIC and will begin classes this coming fall. When asked how NSLI-Y prepared him for his future at Korean university, Jaylen said the following: "NSLI-Y allowed me to live in a more global atmosphere, I was able to meet people from all over the world just by going to a café or walking down the street. It also taught me how to communicate with people from around the world, being able to understand different points of view."
His main goals in returning to Korea for the next four years are to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, experience deeper immersion in the culture and to come closer to reaching his goal of fluency in the language. About what he looks forward to in his return to Korea, Jaylen responded "I am looking forward to hearing Korean again and being back in that global atmosphere. I really miss the friends I made during my nine months on the NSLI-Y program. I feel like the lifestyle that Korea put me in was a very good fit for me, so I'm excited to just continue my Korean lifestyle."