Rupinder Garcha '13 Earns Critical Language Scholarship
Rupinder Garcha '13 has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to fund intensive Arabic language study in Amman, Jordan, this summer. The CLS program, which is run by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, offers summer language institutes in 13 critical-need foreign languages to American undergraduate and graduate students as a way to expand the number of U.S. citizens mastering those languages.
â€œI was thrilled and was literally jumping up and down,” says Garcha of logging into the online CLS portal and discovering her acceptance into the program.“I didn't know what to expect because I knew the scholarship was competitive, and I didn't want to get my hopes up. I really wanted to call home and tell everyone, but couldn't because of the distance and time difference.” (Garcha had been studying abroad in Morocco during spring semester.)
The political science major and peace, justice and human rights concentrator has been studying Arabic since her senior year of high school and has taken Tri-Co classes in the language consistently since coming to Haverford. She chose to study in Morocco this semester to improve her already advanced language skills. While at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane this spring, she took three concurrent language classes: Advanced Modern Standard Arabic, Arabic Media and Beginners Darija, the colloquial Arabic spoken in Morocco.
â€œI've always had an interest in international relations and law as well as an interest in learning languages,” says the Queens, N.Y. native.“Post 9/11, and being from New York, I saw that there was a lot of stereotyping, negativity and ignorance regarding the region, and I wanted to make my own judgments. More importantly, I was aware that very few Americans knew Arabic and knowing the language [and] understanding the culture would be important for U.S.-Arab relations.”
The CLS program covers all costs, including travel, visa fees, room, board, pre-departure orientation costs and entrance fees for program activities. Garcha will arrive in Jordan on June 10 for two months, during which time she will take formal classroom language instruction five days a week for an average of four hours a day. She will learn both Modern Standard Arabic and the Jordanian dialect. Other activities, such as conversation practice with peer tutors and cultural excursions, will supplement the formal curriculum and help Garcha and her classmates to understand Jordanian life.
â€œWhen we think about the Middle East or Arab world we end up clumping together a lot of different countries that span a great distance,” says Garcha who is eager to learn the nuances of different countries in the region. After spending so much time in Morocco, she says, she is looking forward to experiencing the culture of a different Arab country.