As the semester's end quickly approaches, many students are frantically searching for summer jobs and internships. Marnie Valdivia ('10), however, already has one. For 10 weeks during the summer, Valdivia will be studying Arabic in Aman, Jordan through the Critical Language Scholarship program, which is offered by the U.S. State Department.
According to the CLS website, the program is part of an effort by the U.S. government to increase the number of foreign-language speakers.
Although service to the State Department is not required for participants of the CLS, many are going into foreign-service jobs. Students who do the CLS program are expected to continue with their language study after the program is done.
According to Valdivia, the CLS is unique because it is through the State Department, and while it could lead to future opportunities, it is not binding. The scholarship covers the entire trip, as well as a stipend.
Valdivia is excited to study in Jordan. "I have taken Arabic here for four years and plan to continue in grad school, [but the] best way to learn [a language] is in context," she said.
According to Valdivia, the CLS also offers a lot of prestige and connections that she could not have received elsewhere."It can't hurt," she said.
As well as studying Arabic at Drew, Valdivia went on the Egypt Drew International Seminar in 2008 and studied the language in Morocco for a month last summer. Intensive study in Arabic will be very useful to Valdivia's future plans. "I'm looking into diplomacy and foreign relations," she said. Her immediate goal, however, is to participate in a civilian program that sends linguists to work with the military.
Her honors thesis, which was accepted with pending revisions last Wednesday, was on non-profit organizations in Israel and Palestine.
"I want to give them the cultural and linguistic support they may be lacking," Valdivia said. That, according to Valdivia, is the point of the CLS–to create more Arabic speakers.
Furthermore, the language gives her lots of options for future careers.