National Security Language Initiative for Youth Study Abroad (NSLI-Y) ScholarshipsIf you’re trying to learn a language, time spent studying abroad is critical. Living in a foreign country is also a great opportunity to experience a culture and way of life entirely different from than that which you’re used to. If you’re a high school student, studying abroad can be especially useful in terms of narrowing down your interests before getting to college, as well as for giving you a huge advantage over your peers in language class. Of course, living abroad for an extended period of time is expensive. If you’re a high school student, you can’t just jet off to China or Morocco for an entire year or even the summer. Or can you? The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs offers a program called the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) to high school students. If you are looking to study a language that the Department of State has deemed to be particularly important for the futureâ€“think Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian, or Turkishâ€“you can study this language on the Department of State’s dime. The best part about this? Previous language study is not required, and language learners of all levels are encouraged to apply. These languages are some of the best to study for any number of reasons. If you look at predictions of the world’s current/future largest economies (think about the BRIC nations and MIKT nations, groups identified by Goldman Sachs), China, Russia, India, South Korea, and Turkey consistently rank at the top of the list. Additionally, these nations are currently (and will increasingly become) major players on the world stage, and all have rich cultural traditions. Conclusion? Whether you’re interested in business, politics, literature, history, or, really, almost any subject, this program is worth giving some serious thought to. As for the scholarships, they cover:
- Round-trip travel between the participant’s home region and the overseas host city
- Travel from participant’s home region to the pre-departure orientation location
- Tuition and academic materials
- In-country support
- Cultural activities
- Pre-departure and re-entry orientations
- Room and board
- Secondary medical benefits
The only thing you really have to spend on is vaccinations, passport fees, and personal expenses. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. Citizen, have a GPA of at least a 2.5 out of 4, and be 15-18 years old at the time of the start of the program. If you want to explore the various languages and programs offered, check out the website. The application for the 2014-2015 programs will become available in early fall of 2013, so keep your eyes out.
I definitely wish I knew about this program as a high school student! If you decide to do it, you’ll be able to tell friends/family that you’ll be spending the summer in Moscow, studying Russian on a government-funded program. Telling them whether or not you’re with the CIA is, of course, completely optional.