In its third year, Centre College’s Centre Summer Language Institute (CSLI) prepares students for study, service and research in Asia, during a five-week summer program that gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in lesser known but important Asian languages and cultures.
This year, the College will offer three language study sessions in Thai, Japanese and Mandarin. The program runs from June 25 through July 27, 2018.
In the five weeks that CSLI students are on campus, they will reach an advanced beginning or beginning intermediate level of proficiency in their language of choice. They will also study other aspects of Asian life, including the environment and food production.
The CSLI is made possible by a $400,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE).
As part of the inaugural class in the summer of 2016, Ellen Tyra ’19 said the program helped her prepare for several aspects of the CentreTerm 2017 trip to Thailand.
“By the end of the CSLI program, I felt confident enough to speak Thai conversationally while I was abroad and to engage with the local people, which really enhanced my experience,” she said.
During the program, Tyra explained how they took part in Thai cultural learning by watching films, listening to popular music and discussing various subtle elements of Thai culture.
Olivia Murrell ’19 and Brendan Holly ’18 studied Malay in the summer of 2016, which prepared them for their Centre study abroad trip to Malaysian Borneo.
While in the CSLI, Murrell said they learned valuable information about the culture and environmental issues facing Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
“I felt more comfortable traveling to the country knowing some about the culture and the cultural expectations,” she said. “I also enjoyed learning about the environmental issues because those are very near and dear to my heart and being able to see them in real life was a very impactful educational experience.”
In addition to the study abroad trip to Malaysian Borneo, the program prepared Holly for an internship in the summer of 2017 in Indonesian Borneo.
“I did not keep up with Malay as much as I should have following CSLI, but the training gave me a really good foundation for picking up a similar language (Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia) during my internship,” he said. “Because the two languages share many of the same basic words and linguistic structures, I was able to carry on basic conversations and talk about the field work we were doing in Indonesia with the local workers.”
Tyra encourages Centre students to apply for the CSLI program in the future.
“It is a unique experience and well worth the time, especially considering the level of Thai that my classmates and I reached by the end of only five weeks,” Tyra said. “The coursework is interesting and the teachers are willing to work with you outside of the classroom to help you understand the material.
“In today’s interconnected world, having a basic understanding of foreign languages is a strong asset and can go a long way in future endeavors, from getting a job or internship to making friends all across the world,” she concluded.
by Kerry Steinhofer
February 15, 2018