Two Miami students named CLS scholarship recipients, one alternate

A girl on the left stands in front of a decorative wall, while a girl on the right leans against a railing with skyscrapers in the background

By Rachel Berry

Two Miami University students, junior international studies and French double major Sydney Chuen and sophomore international studies and comparative religion double major Inaara Ladha, have been offered the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). This competitive scholarship fully funds a summer immersion program for languages not commonly taught in the United States.

Junior Sophia Pauken, an international studies and German double major, is also an alternate for the program.

The CLS is intended to increase the number of students who are mastering languages the government deems critical, said Karla Guinigundo, Director of Global Partnerships and CLS advisor at Miami. The program focuses on non-European languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Persian, Korean and Hindi.

Guinigundo said this is a “strong year,” with two Miami students chosen for the program.

“The critical language scholarship is well known nationally as the scholarship students who are serious about language acquisition pursue," Guinigundo said. “It’s always encouraging when we have students who are very seriously focused on some of the less commonly taught languages and really motivated to reach a higher fluency through intense programs such as CLS.”

The students will spend their summer at a state department language institute in the country they are assigned. Students apply for a certain language and denote their skill level, and then they are placed in one of the countries where a program in that language is offered.

While they are there, the students will be solely focused on learning the language.

Chuen will be studying Arabic at the Noor Majan Training Institute (NMTL) in Ibri, Oman.

“You’re literally just there to learn Arabic, which is kind of the reason that I wanted to do it anyways because you need complete immersion and you need complete focus to be able to do something like this,” Chuen said.

Chuen was studying abroad in Paris, France, when she received the email saying she had been accepted into the CLS program.

“I was so happy,” Chuen said. “I called everybody all right at once. It was such an exciting moment.”

Ladha was chosen for Hindi and will be staying in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India.

She is studying both Arabic and Hindi and chose to apply for the CLS Hindi program because Miami does not offer courses in the language. Ladha is interested in migration studies and hopes to use her language skills in a future career.

“When you learn a new language, in my opinion, I think you learn how and in what pathways people can think, just by the way they speak the way they can formulate their words and their idioms, and I think when you gain access to that, you can really connect with people more and produce more meaningful solutions to issues that affect many people,” Ladha said.

Looking for opportunities similar to CLS? Learn more about scholarships abroad!