The University of Iowa


April 2nd, 2019

Five University of Iowa students were recently awarded Critical Language Scholarships (CLS): Alexander Bare (to study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco); Eli Bratsch-Prince (to study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco); Abby Rinaldi (to study Mandarin in Dalian, China); Mark Schoen (to study Bahasa in Malang, Indonesia); and Angel Trachta (to study Korean in Gwangju, South Korea). 

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

CLS provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks overseas studying one of 15 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers. 

"Critical" languages are those that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential for America's engagement with the world. CLS plays an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century's globalized workforce, increasing American competitiveness, and contributing to national security. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries.

CLS participants represent a broad diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. CLS actively recruits in states and regions of the United States that have been historically under-represented in international education. 

Since 2006, CLS has awarded scholarships to more than 5,700 American students to learn critical languages around the world. CLS scholars are among the more than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These exchange programs build respect and positive relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education.

For further information about the Critical Language Scholarship or other U.S. government scholarships and programs, visit and


Explore the many funding opportunities open to UI students and alumni

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).

Image of Alexander Bare

Alex Bare, a native of Walcott, Iowa, will travel to Tangier this summer to live with a host family and study at the Arab American Language Institute in Morocco (AALIM). 


Image of Eli Bratsch-Prince

Eli Bratsch-Prince, a native of Ames, Iowa, was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic at the Arab American Language Institute in Tangier, Morocco.


Image of Abby Rinaldi

Abby Rinaldi, a native of Tampa, Florida, will head to Dalian, China, this summer to study Mandarin at the Dalian University of Technology.


Image of Mark Schoen

Mark Schoen from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will travel to Malang, Indonesia, to study Bahasa, the official language of the most populous Muslim country. 


Image of Angel Trachta

Angel Trachta, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will travel to Gwangju, South Korea, and will study advanced Korean at the Chonnam National University.