Three College of Charleston students have been selected for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program out of over 4,600 applicants. The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in fifteen languages while also providing a valuable cultural experience for applicants.
Meet our Winners:
Kelly Lifchez is a senior double majoring in Economics and International Studies, with a concentration in Europe. She also has two minors in Russian Studies and Math. She is a finalist for the Russian program and looks forward to speaking and using Russian everyday with other students and professors. “If you really want to learn another language,” she says, “immersion is essential and the CLS program is structured to make sure you get a valuable immersive experience.”
After graduating, she wants to pursue a career in foreign service with an emphasis on Russia and Eastern Europe as an Economic Officer in the Department of State. “I hope to use the language skills and cultural understanding gained through the CLS program to work in Russia and the surrounding region, doing economic policy analysis and conducting diplomatic exchanges,” she says.
Grace Kern, a sophomore, is currently double majoring in International Studies and Political Science with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. She is a finalist for the Arabic program and looks forward to receiving instruction from professors in Morocco. She is excited for this opportunity and encourages others to apply for CLS, saying, “It is a great opportunity to make huge language strides over a summer turn, allowing you to return to the College with a new skill set.”
After completing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to work in international migration law in the future where she will advocate for migrant workers, help displaced children and families settle into their new homes, and address human rights violations within refugee camps. “I hope to use my Arabic language skills to connect and effectively communicate with future clients in the Middle East and beyond,” she says. “I believe that learning someone’s native language is a huge first step towards earning their respect, and I hope to use the Arabic language in this capacity in my day-to-day work.”
Allison Moore is a senior with a major in Psychology and a minor in Linguistics. She is a finalist for the Punjabi program and looks forward to preserving this endangered language. “Currently, many languages are dying rapidly as recent generations are incentivized to learn globally dominant languages, such as English, and ditch their native tongues,” she says. “I am looking forward to learning about how the history and culture of Punjabi-speaking communities in India and Pakistan influence the linguistic choices individuals make within their respective communities.” To her, this program provides her the opportunity to help preserve languages by learning them, working with speaking communities, and applying their cultural values.
She encourages students to apply to this scholarship program in order to fill in large gaps in their understanding of the surrounding world. “I believe that patriotism, at its core, is a desire to better oneself through learning,” she says. “Students are able to intensively engage with a critical language through formal study and importantly, through direct interactions with speakers of the critical language.”
Written by: Bianca Warfield