To ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) chose to make its summer program entirely virtual. The NSLI-Y Virtual Summer Intensive (VSI) program of 2020 was a virtual alternative to NSLI-Y's standard summer programming that aimed to provide an intensive virtual language learning experience for NSLI-Y students. The program ran for five weeks from July 6 – August 7, 2020, with programs in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Turkish, and Russian.

In addition to providing an educational language learning experience for students, the Virtual Summer Intensive offered students the opportunity to connect and network with locals and guests of program countries. Through these sessions, students learned about diplomacy, non-profit organizations, business, tourism, and everyday life in NSLI-Y countries.

Below are some highlights of the networking activities that NSLI-Y VSI students took part in this past summer:

Chinese (Mandarin) - Tour Guide

A map of Taiwan and two Taiwanese images in the foreground, a tour guide in the upper right corner.

NSLI-Y VSI Chinese (Mandarin) students received a virtual tour of Taiwan from professional tour guide Muchin Lee. She spoke about traditional Taiwan cultural events, including major festivals like the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Russian - American Chamber of Commerce in Russia

A man in from of a sign that says "American Chamber of Commerce in Russia" on the right; a Zoom grid of students on the left.

NSLI-Y VSI Russian students met with Alexis Rodzianko of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. Students learned about the cooperation that is fostered by the American Chamber of Commerce and its American Companies, like GE, Coca-Cola, Apple, and more.

Korean - Deputy Consul

Zoom screenshot of Deputy Consul of the Korean Consulate General in Seattle and students of the NSLI-Y VSI Korean program.

NSLI-Y VSI Korean students had the chance to meet Deputy Consul Seung-In Hong from the Korean Consulate General in Seattle. Mr. Hong shared his insight into Korean history and politics, and Korean's relationship with the United States, while answering thoughtful student questions on his life as a foreign service officer.

Hindi - Host Family

An Indian host family on Zoom large in the foreground, with a vertical grid of NSLI-Y VSI Hindi students at the top of the image.

NSLI-Y VSI Hindi students met with different host families located in the North, Central, South, West, and East regions of India. The families had the opportunity to answer questions about their daily routines, family structure, and hobbies, a well as their regional festivals, cuisines, and apparel.

Turkish - State Department Employees

Zoom screenshot with Turkish State Department employee and NSLI-Y VSI Turkish students.

NSLI-Y VSI Turkish students had the opportunity to meet with Rebecca Doffing, a political officer for the U.S. Department of State, who served two terms in Turkey. Students took advantage of this session to learn about careers in diplomacy.

Arabic - Non-Governmental Organization Members

Zoom screenshot with Atlas Foundation Members and NSLI-Y VSI Arabic students.

NSLI-Y VSI Arabic students attended live sessions with Atlas Foundation Members, with two different groups focusing on two specific topics, respectively: Community Development, with a focus on women's issues, cooperatives, and public health, and Social/Tribal Structure and Natural Resources. With these two sessions, students learned more about both rural life and the Amazigh community in Morocco.