UM Students Win Critical Language Scholarships for Travel to Russia, Morocco

May 11, 2016

MISSOULA – Two University of Montana students have won highly competitive U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships for all-expenses-paid trips to Russia and Morocco this summer.

Julie Ammons, a Russian major and Missoula native, will participate in the CLS Program in Vladimir, Russia, from June 13 to Aug. 14. During the program, she will stay with a host family and attend language courses and cultural events, along with other students who have won the scholarship, for full immersion.

Ammons said the location of the trip is special because the Russian program at UM has a pen-pal exchange with students in Vladimir, and she already knows two pen pals there.

She also has taken advanced-level Russian literature, language and culture classes and said she enjoys studying it because Russian culture is unique.

“People (in Russia) take poetry, music and novels very seriously, and literature voices these strong and passionate ideas,” Ammons said. “Beauty and suffering are both deep cultural values. I am fascinated by a culture where nearly everyone has memorized a favorite poem and will gladly stand up and recite it for you with full feeling.”

Ammons holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and expects to graduate in December 2016 with a bachelor’s in Russian and minors in history and German. She plans to pursue a doctorate in Russian language and literature and eventually become a professor.

“I have always had a passion for languages, cultures, history and literature – I just didn’t realize that it was a field of study I could pursue until a few years ago,” Ammons said. “The Russian program at UM has been incredibly stimulating and nurturing.”

Natalie Stockmann, a sophomore from Burlington, Vermont, will study Arabic in Meknes, Morocco, for eight weeks. She currently is participating in the Wild Field Rockies Institute and plans to work with rural communities to help manage and conserve natural resources.

“After studying Spanish in Nicaragua and volunteering in rural towns, I developed an interest in community engagement and development,” Stockmann said. “My interest in the Middle East combines my passion for language study, resource conservation, social justice, rural development and community engagement. My participation in the CLS Program will help me achieve my future goals.”

Stockmann is majoring in environmental studies with a minor in Arabic studies. She said she became interested in Arabic because of its differences from Latin-based languages.

“After two years of Arabic, I feel that my opportunities to expand my knowledge of Arabic are endless,” she said. “The diversity of dialects, as well as the fusion of Arabic and other languages from the Arab world, make the study of Arabic a lifelong commitment for me.”

Ammons and Stockmann were chosen among 560 other undergraduate and graduate students from all over the country to participate in the CLS Program. A part of the U.S. Department of State, the CLS Program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program that has sent more than 5,000 students abroad in the past 10 years.

For more information on the CLS Program, visit http://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.