University of Iowa student Anna Correa of Clive, Iowa, has been awarded a 2021 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for a virtual intensive language and cultural program to study Hindi this summer.
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.
"Language learning has always been a passion of mine," said Correa. "I think the best way to learn about the world is to talk to people in their own language. For that reason, I’ve taken many opportunities to learn new languages to broaden the number and types of people I can interact with. I have studied Spanish, Chinese, and Swahili, and I’ve loved all of them. Growing up with an Indian dad, I always felt speaking Hindi would allow me to connect with people with whom I share that identity. When I found out about the CLS Hindi program, I immediately started making preparations to apply because it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hone the language skills I’ve started building with my new Hindi tutor."
"I think the best way to learn about the world is to talk to people in their own language. For that reason, I’ve taken many opportunities to learn new languages to broaden the number and types of people I can interact with."
CLS participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.
"As a future public health practitioner, I hope to center my work in community-based participatory research, which means that community members are partners in everything. For my interest in child health, hearing the stories and experiences of people in their own words in their most comfortable language is vital to understanding the gaps in support. Learning Hindi through CLS will get me closer to being able to have these important conversations myself, rather than relying on translators or forcing community members to accommodate my lack of local language.
"I think there’s a misconception that CLS is only for people interested in national security or foreign service. If you want to learn a language, no matter what your field or future profession, give the application a shot. Your passion and commitment to learning will come through and will carry you a lot further than trying to tailor your motivations to fit what you think the program wants."
In terms of her own application process, Correa is grateful for all the support she received.
"I need to thank Dr. Will Story for writing my letter of recommendation, Ayushi for being my first Hindi tutor, and Karen Wachsmuth from International Programs for her guidance. I’d also like to thank the folks at the College of Public Health and my family for supporting me in this endeavor, as well as those who helped review my essays."