Small and Khan Receive Language Scholarship

News  /  by Grace Blaxill '18  /  May 06, 2016

Lisa Kim '17/The Lawrence

Two Lawrentians, Shaezmina Khan ’19 and Alexander Small ’18, have recently been awarded the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NLSI-Y) scholarship to study a foreign language abroad. The scholarship sends US high school students who they believe demonstrate “[a skill for] language learning, sense of character, demonstrated cultural awareness, and will to succeed” to foreign countries to spend six to eight weeks studying a foreign language, according to their website.

The program is extremely competitive, with only 600 high school students and recent graduates being selected to study this summer from mid to late June until late July or August. The selection process begins with a written application, followed by an interview with a local official. The program offers its scholarship recipients the choice of studying Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, or Turkish. Khan and Small have decided to learn Arabic in Morocco, and Mandarin in China, respectively.

On the experience, Khan said, “This summer, I will be attending the NSLI-Y Summer Arabic Program and will be traveling to Morocco for six weeks. Prior to applying for NSLI-Y, I had always been fascinated in learning how to speak and write in Arabic, since a significant portion of my own heritage, culture, language, and history has have in the Arab world. As soon as I found out about NSLI-Y, I was immediately drawn to the program, as it provided me a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel around the world and fully immerse myself in a foreign culture. I feel so blessed to have been chosen from a pool of talented and exceptional candidates and am very excited to study arabic abroad. I know the experience will be one that I will never forget. ”

Similarly, Small looks forward to the experience, recalling how he began studying Chinese because “I moved around a lot [when I] was young, and language was something that I became exposed to. Living abroad is something that I have done, and it’s been a really great experience to be able to see and experience different cultures. The Chinese language is something really unique from our alphabetic language.”

Lawrenceville’s Chinese program initially interested Small in applying for the NSIL-Y scholarship. He said, “When I came to Lawrenceville, I hadn’t taken Chinese before, and I really fell in love with the program and the language, so I was looking for something where I could learn the language and gain a cultural experience like nothing else I had been exposed to before.”