University of Iowa international studies (international communications and Islamic & Middle Eastern studies) and French student Lauren Philips of Council Bluffs, Iowa, has been awarded a 2022 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Persian.
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.
Philips has studied language intensively since high school, studying French for seven years and Arabic for three years.
"My language studies have been accompanied by a commitment to developing a working knowledge of culture and politics in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA)," says Philips. "I was drawn to study Persian because it is similar to Arabic and is the core language for dialects spoken in Afghanistan and Iran, among other nations. I felt that intensive Persian study would allow me to develop a more holistic perspective of the MENA region. Even though I have not previously studied Persian, my time learning French and Arabic has opened my eyes to the world and has only motivated me to continue to learn and explore wherever an opportunity presents itself."
"Even though I have not previously studied Persian, my time learning French and Arabic has opened my eyes to the world and has only motivated me to continue to learn and explore wherever an opportunity presents itself."
After studying abroad in Jordan through the SIT Jordan Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action program, Philips became drawn to the idea of working in public diplomacy and would love to use her language skills to interact with Afghan refugees coming to Iowa. "While a lot of these individuals can speak Arabic or English, I have realized that being able to speak with someone, even minimally, in their native language makes a sizeable difference in helping people feel more comfortable and confident in any space," says Philips.
For Iowa students interested in applying for the CLS, Philips offers this advice:
"Just apply! The application process can be daunting, but if you believe that your time studying a critical language will make an impact on your global perspective, it is definitely worth working towards. I believe in you!"