The University of Iowa

Critical Language Scholarship winner Aastha Chandra to study Hindi virtually this summer

April 29th, 2021

University of Iowa biomedical science student Aastha Chandra of Cedar Falls, Iowa, has been awarded a 2021 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for a summer virtual intensive language and cultural program in Hindi.

The Critical Language 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. In addition, CLS Program alumni who complete the program are eligible at a higher level to begin careers in the U.S. government.

"I’ve lived in Iowa almost my whole life, so I wanted a new perspective and new surroundings," said Chandra. "I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel often (pre-pandemic) with my family, and I loved sightseeing and learning about the history and culture of different places. I realized I prioritized learning while in these countries, and the immersion made it all the more enjoyable. If you get the chance, study abroad is the perfect break in perspective and an amazing opportunity to experience learning for the sake of learning, not just for your next class!"

"I am really interested in global maternal and child health, and increasing my proficiency in Hindi will provide me with an immense advantage in working in nongovernmental organizations between the U.S. and India."

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. 

"I am really interested in global maternal and child health, and increasing my proficiency in Hindi will provide me with an immense advantage in working in nongovernmental organizations between the U.S. and India. It is critical to understand the language patients communicate with in order to have a medium of trust and to understand the barriers they face."

CLS is a competitive scholarship, but Chandra encourages her fellow UI students not to be discouraged.

"Keep going! Your motivation will eventually shine through—this was my second year applying, and I had been selected as an alternate both years. So when I got the email that I was promoted to finalist, I was ecstatic!"

Learn more about the Critical Language Scholarship

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