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Maxwell Students Receive Prestigious Critical Language Scholarship

April 16, 2024

SU News

Two Maxwell students were among the five selected as recipients of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), through which they will immerse themselves in intensive language study this summer.

The recipients and the languages they will study are:

Christian Bevilacqua ’24, a social studies education and geography major in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education, studying Urdu;

Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhauer G’24 a creative writing master’s of fine arts (M.F.A.) student (poetry) in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Russian;

Anthony Ornelaz G’24, a creative writing M.F.A. student in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Turkish;

Chelsea Sato, a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Korean; and

Ciara Young ’24, an international relations and anthropology major in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and linguistics major in A&S, studying Korean.

The CLS program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. Traditionally, some 550 students spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 14 languages—Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. The program is fully funded and includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

CLS, a program of the U.S. Department of State, is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

Christian Bevilacqua

Christian Bevilacqua
Christian Bevilacqua

Bevilacqua will study Urdu in Lucknow, India. This is his second time participating in the CLS program; he studied Hindi in Jaipur, India, in 2022.

“Participating in the CLS Urdu program is an exciting opportunity for me to further my language skills and expand my cultural understanding of South Asia,” he says.

Bevilacqua will be an incoming first-year master’s student in geography in the Maxwell School in the fall, and he looks forward to learning Urdu to better prepare himself for future research projects.

“I am interested in studying the experiences of South Asian migrant workers in urban cities of the Arabian Peninsula,” says Bevilacqua. “Learning Urdu as a lingua franca will enable me to connect with their stories, experiences, feelings and expressions of art and memory, which is crucial for understanding how transnational migrant workers construct and navigate a sense of home and community.”

Ciara Young

Ciara Young
Ciara Young

During her time at Syracuse, Young has maintained a deep commitment to the study of Korean language and affairs, particularly in the context of contemporary political developments and social movements. “In this way, being awarded CLS is the perfect culmination to my four years at SU, and the perfect beginning to my professional pursuits,” she says. “I am eager to meet my cohort and continue to immerse myself in Korean language and culture alongside them. I am especially looking forward to the time I will spend with my language partner around Gwangju.”

Following her CLS experience, Young will apply the linguistic and cultural insights she gains, as well as the intercultural communication, critical thinking, and teamwork skills she develops, to enhance her research pursuits and language studies in graduate school, focusing on foreign policy, security studies and issues that impact U.S.-Korean relations.

“As I work towards my professional goal of becoming a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department, the cross-cultural competence and Korean language skills I will develop during my time in Gwangju, a city renowned as the birthplace of Korean democracy and the May 18 Democratic Uprising, will be truly invaluable,” she says.

Read the full article via the SU News website.

By Kelly Homan Rodoski

Communications and Media Relations Office
200 Eggers Hall