News desk | ILLINOIS
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students Caleb Apperson, Dahlia Davis, and Aiman Ghani received U.S. State Department award Critical Language Scholarships study foreign languages this summer.
Apperson, of Champaign, a graduate of Centennial High School, was offered a critical language scholarship to study Chinese. Apperson is a junior specializing in East Asian languages and cultures. While in Illinois, he worked as an intern at Japan House, helping to educate the community about Japanese culture, aesthetics, and art forms. He is also a member of Bridges International, a community outreach group that helps international students acclimate to campus life and American culture. According to Apperson, his goal is to become a Foreign Service Officer at the State Department.
Davis, from Plainfield, Illinois, and a graduate of Plainfield East High School, was offered a critical language scholarship to study Korean. A James Scholar Honors student, Davis is a junior double major in linguistic and East Asian languages and cultures. She is studying Korean in her fourth year and has previously participated in Middlebury College’s Korean Immersion Summer Program on a foreign and regional language scholarship. Davis also performs in the Marching Illini and the Philharmonia Orchestra and is vice president of the American Sign Language and Culture Club. Davis said she aspired to work on Korean unification issues in a government agency.
Ghani, an elderly person primary education, will use the prize to study Urdu. A transfer student, she is involved with interfaith and diversity organizations on campus. She also trains horses as a volunteer with Crosswinds Equine Rescue. Ghani writes and presents her own poetry and completes her first novel as she seeks to branch out into children’s literature. Ghani said she plans to become an ESL teacher who “honours and welcomes my students’ native languages into the classroom as learning tools.”
The Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a U.S. government initiative to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign language and cultural skills to enable them to contribute to the economic competitiveness and national security of the United States. . The program offers full scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks abroad — or online, depending on COVID-19 conditions — studying one of 15 critical languages.
The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to foster rapid language gains. Scholars are expected to continue their study of the language beyond the scholarship and apply their essential language skills in their future careers. About 10% of the 4,500 applicants nationwide have been awarded a Critical Language Fellowship in 2022.