By Jack Orloff
Liberal Arts and Science Academy Junior Sahana Sudarsan has always been passionate about other cultures and communities worldwide, and dreamed of studying them.
That dream came true in June as she was awarded the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Virtual Summer Intensive scholarship to study Arabic and Jordanian culture for six weeks.
Sudarsan was selected from over 2,500 applicants across the United States and is one of a select group of students who will study an array of languages this summer.
"I was so grateful to have been selected for this unique program, which allowed me to be exposed to so many interesting aspects of culture and make new friends," Sudarsan said. "It opens many doors to interact with more people and make an impact on a broader scale. It is also an opportunity like no other to learn firsthand about different cultures."
Since 2006, the six-week government program's goal has been to improve students' ability to learn critical languages and help provide skills for the global job market. Students who participate in the program often pursue career paths overseas.
Sahana learned about the scholarship through a global leadership program that she attended in the summer of 2020. As part of that program, she worked with refugee organizations and helped with English tutoring. That sparked her interest in how she could help people in other countries by learning their culture and language.
"I am extremely proud of Sahana," said her mother, Suparna Since Roy. "She has always been interested in global affairs and public policy-related discussions, and this is a great opportunity for her to learn firsthand about Jordanian culture, language and some unique aspects of the country."
Students usually travel overseas to study, but this year's program is virtual because of the pandemic. Students will connect virtually with overseas teachers, cultural organizations, international peers and communities.
Sudarsan says that she hopes to use Arabic to connect people and to understand more about different cultures.
"I hope to go into the field of international relations, for which Arabic is a very useful skill," she said. "I think that communication and language are really important to understanding other cultures and perspectives, so I'm eager to utilize my current and future Arabic skills to connect with more people."
Applications for 2022-23 NSLI-Y programs will be available at www.nsliforyouth.org in the late summer.
The U.S. The Department of State provides study abroad opportunities for over 1,000 American high school students and 3,000 international high school students each year.
Please visit www.exchanges.state.gov/highschool to learn more.