Centre students receive State Department scholarship for study in China
Two rising seniors at Centre College have been awarded Critical Language Scholarships by the United States Department of State to study Chinese. Logan Pauley of Versailles, Ky., and Ashlyn Weber of Edmond, Okla., (pictured, center) will travel in June to Hangzhou, China, where they will be enrolled in language study at Zhejiang University for two months.
The Critical Language Scholarship Program is a State Department initiative aimed at increasing the number of Americans with competency in important languages that are not commonly studied in this country. Critical languages include Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu. Scholarships are highly competitive, and this year’s awardees number approximately 550 across all languages.
Pauley, a self-designed Asian studies major, and Weber, an international relations major and Asian studies minor, applied for the scholarship while studying abroad in Shanghai in the fall of 2013. The two took intensive Chinese courses while there, and they also did internships at a language consultancy called AllSet Learning.
“The Shanghai program was truly indispensible in preparing me for this summer,” said Pauley. “The program we did was very intensive and was a lot of work. After that program I feel like there’s nothing I’m not ready for.”
“My Centre experience really strengthened my application for the CLS,” agrees Weber. “I have experience in China through Centre; I know what to expect in studying languages intensively.”
While at Zhejiang, the two will attend 20 hours of classes each week, along with five hours of one-on-one tutoring and three to seven hours of cultural excursions. Their courses focus on various aspects of the Chinese language, including listening, speaking, grammar, reading and composition. Pauley and Weber will also write newsletter updates in Chinese so that State Department officials can assess their progress.
Each of the two students came to Centre having studied Spanish and wanting to try something new. “With Chinese I was looking for a challenge and something different,” says Pauley. “I fell in love with it.”
“It also helps that Chinese will be very useful for upcoming jobs,” says Weber.
At the end of their time in China, Pauley and Weber plan to take the HSK, China’s standardized test of language proficiency for non-native speakers. Both hope to pass level five, an achievement that signifies professional fluency in a language that is among the most difficult for native English speakers to learn.
Learning Chinese is a significant step toward Pauley and Weber’s future goals. After graduation, Pauley plans to go to graduate school to study East Asian languages and cultures. He hopes eventually to teach languages like Mandarin and Japanese. Weber is interested in finding government work related to East Asia, perhaps through the State Department.
by Laurie Pierce