A goal of NSLI-Y is to equip young Americans with the language skills to advance international dialogue and promote economic prosperity and innovation worldwide. Last year, four NSLI-Y Academic Year students traveled across the globe to pursue this goal. They returned to the U.S. with an abundance of stories that they graciously shared with the NSLI-Y community.

NSLI-Y students have a unique opportunity to hone their language skills through cultural and language immersion.

Max AY

For instance, Max from Dallas, TX had the opportunity to study Chinese (Mandarin) in Taipei, Taiwan with NSLI-Y. Max shared that the most influential moments of his time in Taiwan stemmed from his time in class learning Mandarin and out in Taiwan engaging with his host family and Taiwanese friends. He noted that his language skills greatly benefited from the personalized, high-quality instruction he received. Likewise, he spent a considerable time doing fun activities with his local friends and host family, and through these interactions, his understanding of the local culture reached new levels.

Freya AY

Similarly, Freya from Madison, WI traveled to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to learn Mandarin with NSLI-Y. Freya saw that NSLI-Y's language learning resources prepared her to navigate the new environment. Though initially difficult to navigate quarantine, she nonetheless excelled at honing her Mandarin skills and engaged with the local culture. Freya’s experience in Taiwan left a lasting impact on her personal growth. She shared that her confidence, social skills, and cultural sensitivity skills grew substantially due to her time with NSLI-Y. She now aims to continue her language studies and pursue a career that allows her to travel and use her language skills.

Lia AY

Lia from La Verne, CA had the opportunity to study Korean in Seoul, South Korea with NSLI-Y. As she notes, learning a language can be a slow process, and at times, it seems as though you are not making progress. During her time at a Korean musical named Death Note, Lia saw how her language skills were subconsciously growing. She remembers being able to follow the story of the musical through what the actors were saying and their lyrics. Notably, Lia enjoyed being able to connect with Koreans on a more artistic and personal level. She shared that this experience boosted her confidence and motivation for wanting to continue her studies in Korean.

Makena AY

While in Jordan, Makena from Hillsboro, OR had the opportunity to experience tons of culture and diverse worldviews. For instance, she was able to learn the different types of calligraphy along with Jordanian history from a well-renowned calligraphy artist. She highlighted the opportunity to run in the Wadi Rum marathon in the desert and explore Amman with friends who she now considers close friends. She shared that her major takeaways from NSLI—Y was that she was able to learn something new about the local culture and religion every day. Makena accredits this to moments spent with her host mom who explained different aspects of Islam.

As the alumni have highlighted, NSLI-Y offers students the opportunity to learn their target language in a unique and impactful way. NSLI-Y is proud of the alumni for overcoming challenges and thriving in their host country and look forward to seeing their future accomplishments!