University of Iowa economics and art major Mark Schoen from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been awarded a 2019 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) and will travel to Malang, Indonesia, to study Bahasa, the official language of the most populous Muslim country. According to the Modern Language Association, fewer than 300 Americans enrolled in collegiate Indonesian courses in 2009, creating an amazing opportunity for students who study it.
"I see this experience as being supremely beneficial to my future goals."
"During my travels in Asia, Indonesia was one of my favorite places," said Schoen. "From a career perspective, Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world yet has an economy 1/20 the size of the United States. There is room for plenty of growth and being able to communicate will enable me to assist better. I see this experience as being supremely beneficial to my future goals. Two of my goals are to move back to Asia at some point in my career and assist developing countries to achieve their goals. Learning Bahasa will position me to achieve both of those goals."
The CLS scholarship is a program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is intended to help broaden the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages while building relationships between people of the United States and other countries.
Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply.
CLS is a competitive scholarship with acceptance rates hovering around 10 percent each year. Schoen's advice to future applicants: "Do detailed research on the country you are applying to. I gave very specific examples of what I wanted to accomplish on the program and what I thought I would get out of it in the context of Indonesia. You cannot control what you are going to get out of the program, but showing application reviewers you have an outcome-based mentality goes a long way, I believe."
Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance. Schedule an advising appointment with Associate Director of International Fellowships Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).