UO students receive State Department Critical Language Scholarships

U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships
U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships

Two University of Oregon students have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships to support their study of nationally important languages during the summer of 2014.

Sienna Stevenson will be spending the summer in Rabat, Morocco, to study Arabic, and Brian O’Donnell will travel to Russia to study the Russian language. The grants are among the most competitive language scholarships in the nation, and participants are expected to continue their language study after completing the program and use their skills in future careers.

Stevenson plans to do just that.

The Ashland native is majoring in International Studies with a double minor in Arabic and Italian. She also speaks Turkish and French. The focus of her International Studies Program is migration and refugee studies, and she hopes to work with refugee populations in the Middle East or Mediterranean area – possibly in translation or conflict resolution. With the help of this scholarship, she plans to improve her Arabic skills and cross-cultural communication skills.

“I am excited to live with a host family and experience a whole new way of life, and of course to try new food,” Stevenson said. “I hope I can come back with a better understanding of Arab and Moroccan culture, how the formal dialect versus the colloquial dialect is used and a better understanding of how someone in Morocco would view social issues such as poverty or migration.”

Stevenson and O’Donnell are among roughly 550 American undergraduate and graduate students to receive a 2014 CLS scholarship. Participants will spend seven to 10 weeks in an intensive language program this summer in one of 13 countries.

The program is part of a  government effort to expand the number of American students mastering foreign languages considered critical to economic, cultural and security interests. Participants represent all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and come from more than 200 higher education institutions.

―By Katherine Cook, Public Affairs Communications intern