Junior selected, senior an alternate for Critical Language Scholarship
Towson University students Naomi Hagos and Andrea Herb have learned firsthand how travel abroad changes lives.
It’s what prompted them to apply for the Critical Language Scholarship offered by the U.S. Department of State. Hagos received an award to study Swahili in Tanzania, while Herb is a finalist and alternate. She is hoping to study in China.
The scholarship provides intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid gains in foreign languages critical to national security and economic prosperity.
Both students have gone abroad multiple times while at TU, and they stress the impact their experiences have had on their lives.
“Traveling abroad should be a priority for all individuals,” says Hagos. “You gain expanded knowledge on global perspective and interdependence, which is essential not only as a student but a member of the society we live in today.”
The international studies major traveled to Tanzania in spring 2018. There she discovered a passion for Swahili and, after returning to the U.S., searched for a way to continue studying the language.
“My Arabic professor encouraged me to apply [for the scholarship],” she said. “Words can’t describe how happy I was when I received the news. I still get random bursts of excitement when I remember where and how I will be spending this summer.”
Hagos cites her East African background and deep connection to her culture as the basis for her interest in expanding her perspective. She intends to pursue her career in East Africa.
She is currently studying in Brazil, taking courses and volunteering with ONG Mais União. The NGO provides opportunities for vulnerable children to participate in theater, music and technology.
Herb has studied abroad twice before, both in 2018. The Honors College student participated in the faculty-led program Corporate Communications in the U.K. before heading to Chengdu, China, in the summer.
The mass communication major took Chinese in high school and was happy to continue her studies as a Chinese minor at TU. She hopes to put her communications knowledge to use by working in China, covering the country from a Western perspective.
“I didn’t travel extensively growing up,” she says. “But after studying abroad, I really value the range of experiences people have across the world and how their backgrounds influence them. It puts your own background in perspective. I know my experience isn’t typical."
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Diverse and Inclusive Campus.