UM Students Receive Critical Language Scholarships from U.S. Department of State

May 01, 2014

MISSOULA – Two University of Montana students will jet across the globe this summer to undertake intensive language and cultural training as part of the U.S. Department of State Critical Languages Scholarship Program.

UM seniors Morgan Azeka and Kyle Koslosky are among 550 U.S. university students selected to participate in the CLS Program. They will spend seven to 10 weeks studying overseas through an all-expenses-paid scholarship.

Azeka, of Hanapepe, Hawaii, will study Arabic in Nizwa, Oman, a country located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Koslosky, of Somers, will study Japanese in Himeji, on Japan’s main island.

The students will spend several hours a day in the classroom perfecting their technical knowledge of the language, but also will have opportunities to interact with the community and immerse themselves in the culture and dialects of the region. Before leaving the U.S. in June, they will participate in an orientation program in Washington, D.C.

Azeka became interested in Arabic during high school and came to UM specifically to pursue the language. She has worked as a volunteer teaching assistant with UM Arabic language and culture Lecturer Samir Bitar and as a teaching assistant in the Montana Arabic Summer Institute at UM, which offers introductory Arabic courses to Montana high school students. She also studies politics.

“Most of my life, my country has been active in the Arab world, in general and the Middle East overall,” she said. “I’ve seen it as something that’s been important in the country. Recently, I’ve been looking more into the understanding part, and I’m looking to bridge the gap because there are a lot of misunderstandings – especially on the American side – of the Arab world.”

Azeka said she hopes to use her Arabic skills in foreign affairs work, helping to build a healthier relationship between the U.S. and the Arab world.

Koslosky first became interested in Japanese during a study abroad trip to Italy four years ago. He met a Japanese student there, which he said opened his eyes to the bigger world of cross-cultural understanding. He later volunteered at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative trade conference held at Big Sky Resort, where he met people from Asia, as well as people working with the U.S. Department of State.

With a minor in linguistics, Koslosky is interested in working in education or with the government, translating, interpreting or working at an embassy or consulate.

“This program is a great opportunity in whatever direction I want to go because it’s sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and from what I’ve heard the outcomes are a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” he said. “You have the opportunity to be immersed in the language and be around it constantly. I think that’s really important for anyone who wants to advance their language and cultural fluency.”

 The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

UM’s Arabic and Japanese programs are part of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

For more information call Laure Pengelly Drake, director of external scholarships and advising for the UM Davidson Honors College, at 406-243-6140 or email laure.pengellydrake@umontana.edu. More information on the CLS Program is available online at http://www.clscholarship.org.

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Contact: Laure Pengelly Drake, director of external scholarships and advising, UM Davidson Honors College, 406-243-6140, laure.pengellydrake@umontana.edu.