Vassar students How Yu Chung and Nitasha Giran were recipients of the prestigious 2017 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) award, allowing them to join American students from institutions across the United States in a summer-long program designed to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.
How Yu Chung participated in intensive Korean courses at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, the sixth largest city in Korea, known for its food and its role in the nation’s democratic movement. During one excursion this summer, CLS students had an opportunity to learn about the May 18th Democratic Movement, also known as the Gwangju Uprising, which occurred at the gates of Chonnam National University and played a pivotal role in the foundation of the country’s democracy. Students visited the May 18th National Cemetery and spoke with citizens who lived in Gwangju at the time of this historical period.
Nitasha Giran participated in intensive Punjabi courses at the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) in Chandigarh, Punjab. Chandigarh, the capital city of both the Haryana and Punjabi states, is the most prominent of the modern Indian cities built after Indian independence. Giran and her fellow CLS students had the opportunity to visit Manakpur Sharif, a traditional Punjabi village. Students visited the village’s various temples and shrines, and also a dam constructed by a World Bank initiative. The farmer family that hosted the students also showed them their fields of rice, sugarcane and corn, while discussing local labor economics in Punjabi.
The students lived with local Korean- and Punjabi-speaking host families and met regularly with local peers to learn more about the language and develop their personal networks. The group engaged in cultural excursions, lectures and other enrichment activities designed to support and enhance language learning and exposure to the host culture.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.The CLS program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills in languages that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential for America’s engagement with the world, contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.