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Southwestern Student Receives State Department Scholarship to Study Chinese

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    Gillian Ring (Photo by Carlos Barron).

Gillian Ring included in national scholarship program for study of critical-need languages

Southwestern student Gillian Ring has received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study Chinese in China this summer.

The State Department started the Critical Language Scholarship Program in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Persian and Russian. It is part of a broader U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-need languages.

This year, the State Department received nearly 5,300 applications for the program and selected 575 students. The students selected for the program will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes in 15 different countries. Students in China will be placed with a host family or live in a residence hall with Chinese-speaking students to aid in their study and learning.

Ring is the first Southwestern student to receive one of these scholarships. “This is a great opportunity, and I hope more Southwestern students will start taking advantage of the programs available to travel and study abroad,” she said.

Ring is a sophomore and is majoring in biology and international studies with an emphasis on political science in East Asia and a minor in Chinese. She heard about the scholarship from her Chinese professor, Carl Robertson, and applied in December 2009. 

Ring will be studying in Shanghai. “Shanghai is one of the biggest cities in the world, which is very different from what I am familiar with,” she said. “I am not sure what to expect, but I am very excited.”

Ring is still undecided on her career goals, but she hopes to use this opportunity to explore the Chinese language in more depth and become proficient in it.  

“I think this will be a good learning experience for me and hope it may offer me a new perspective and insights into career possibilities,” she said. 

For more information on the Critical Language Scholarship Program, visit www.clscholarship.org.

–Reese Cisneros ‘10