• Senior to experience South Korea on language exchange scholarship

    Leona ChenUpper St. Clair High School senior Leona Chen will study Korean this summer in South Korea on a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI‑Y) scholarship.

    Leona was one of 540 students selected from thousands of high school applicants across the United States to receive a NSLI‑Y scholarship. While in South Korea, she will live with a host family, immerse herself in the local culture and host community, and engage with local peers to enhance language learning and build mutual understanding.

    The fully-funded scholarship will provide Leona with the opportunity to immerse herself in the Korean culture and language.

    “Immersion is the most effective way to learn a new language, so NSLI-Y will provide me with that opportunity through the Korean Summer Program,” Leona said. “By living in a country of native speakers, I hope to not only learn to communicate in Korean but also learn about the culture, a crucial context to understanding and using the language.”

    NSLI‑Y, a program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), promotes the study of Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, or Turkish.

    Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to select a specific country/language to study.

    “I chose to learn Korean because I've had an interest in the language and culture since I was in middle school,” Leona said. “As a Taiwanese American, I have an interest in exploring East Asia and learning about the interconnected history. Additionally, learning Korean complements my goal to study computer science and work in the global technology sector.”

    Next fall, Leona plans to study computer science at the Schreyer Honors College at Pennsylvania State University.

    Launched in 2006 as part of a multi-agency U.S. Government initiative, NSLI‑Y increases the number of young Americans with the critical language skills necessary to advance international dialogue, promote economic prosperity and innovation worldwide, and contribute to national security by building understanding across cultures. Many NSLI‑Y alumni go on to pursue education and careers vital to U.S. national security and credit the program experience with helping them improve their academic, leadership, and cross-cultural communication skills.

    NSLI‑Y is administered by American Councils for International Education in cooperation with AFS‑USA, American Cultural Exchange Service, Amideast, iEARN‑USA, Stony Brook University, and the University of Delaware.

    Applications for NSLI‑Y programs are available at www.nsliforyouth.org each fall.