Centre Summer Language Institute offers intensive study of Asian languages, culture

Centre students interested in becoming immersed in Asian languages and cultures will have the chance to do so on campus from June 27 through July 29 through the new Centre Summer Language Institute (CSLI).

The CSLI, funded in part by a grant from the Luce Foundation, was created to expose students to lesser-known Asian languages and cultures, including Thai and Malay, as well as Mandarin.

“This program is meant to reflect and reinforce Centre College’s own strategic goals: to prepare young people to be citizens of the world by helping them develop the perspectives and skills necessary to seize opportunities and face challenges across the globe,” says Kyle Anderson, chair of Centre’s Asian studies program and a founder of the CSLI.

Students who complete the five-week CSLI program can expect to reach an advanced beginning or beginning intermediate level of proficiency in their respective language, which they can then apply directly to future coursework in Asian studies and environmental studies courses and study abroad, including 2017 CentreTerm trips to Thailand and Borneo, and research, internships and service opportunities in Thailand, Malaysia and China in summer 2017.

Anderson anticipates that the languages and cultures students explore during the CSLI will allow them to connect with people on a deeper level when abroad, magnifying the study abroad experience that Centre already does so well.

“Any attempt to engage with the issues and challenges facing a foreign nation and its peoples requires a commitment to study their languages and cultures,” Anderson says. “There is a hubris that has historically accompanied the presumption that someone else’s situation can be understood or resolved without a proper knowledge of local tongues and cultural practices. Such quick and convenient approaches most often end up embarrassing (and injuring) all parties involved.”

Giving students the opportunity to apply what they learn to their own lives is exactly what the CSLI was created to do.

“We ultimately want to help Centre students become citizens, not merely visitors, of the world,” he says.

The CSLI will also take place on Centre’s campus in the summer of 2018.

Program funding is provided in part through a four-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for Asian and environmental studies on campus and study abroad, research and internships in three Asian countries. The $400,000 grant, which comes out of the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment, will be applied in two parts, divided into two-year stages between 2016 and 2020.

by Elizabeth Trollinger
May 11, 2016