Stories from Our Community

MA Candidate Ayesha Hamza wins Critical Language Scholarship

Ayesha Hamza, a second-year International Studies MA candidate, was recently awarded the nationally competitive Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). During the summer of 2016 she studied the Russian language in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the CLS program, with over 5,000 students being sent to countries around the world to learn critical languages.

The CLS program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages, and is sponsored by the U.S. State Department. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning. The program offers courses in 14 different languages including: Urdu, Bangla, Swahili and Arabic. The Chinese, Japanese and Russian language applicants are required to be at intermediate or advanced levels upon their entrance into the CLS program.

The Russian language program of CLS operates in two different cities in Russia. According to CLS, Russian continues to be one of the most in-demand languages among employers in both the public and private sectors due to its international relevance and unique versatility. Russian is spoken by over one-hundred million Russians, and is also the lingua franca of the entire former Soviet Union.

Scholarship recipients receive many benefits: intensive overseas group based language courses, room and board with a host family, a full cultural program, host community language partners, US academic credit, and domestic and international airfare. Upon completion of the program participants also receive a certified American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) score.

Ayesha enjoyed the immersive process of the CLS, particularly to be able to stay with a host family and better understand the cultural components of Russian language. She was excited to travel to Russia for the first time since she began her language studies in 2011 at Ohio State University, where she received her B.A. in Russian and International Relations.