Lela Walter, a junior at Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, was awarded a U.S. Department of State NSLI-Y scholarship to study language abroad this summer.
Lela lived in Nanjing, the southern capital of China, June 28 through Aug. 11 where she studied Chinese at Nanjing University.
“The best part of my trip was having time during the afternoon to explore the city and view all of its sites with my peers.” Lela wrote in an email. “I loved how I was able to incorporate my language skills into these activities by asking natives for help with directions, buying food and water, learning how to use the public transportation, etc.”
The NSLI-Y program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly-taught languages during summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. NSLI-Y offers overseas study opportunities in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian and Turkish.
The goals of the NSLI-Y program include igniting interest in foreign languages and cultures, developing a corps of young Americans with the skills necessary to advance international dialogue in the private, academic or government sectors and building upon the foundations developed through person-to-person relationships while abroad, according to a press release from the American Councils and the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
In addition to her studies in China, Lela has completed four years of Chinese through Montgomery County Public Schools where she is continuing to study the language.
“I plan on enhancing my Chinese knowledge through future study in college and, hopefully, by participating in additional study abroad opportunities,” she wrote.
NSLI-Y is administered by American Councils for International Education in cooperation with AFS-USA, American Cultural Exchange Service, Americans Promoting Study Abroad, AMIDEAST, iEARN-USA, Legacy International, and Russian American Foundation. Applications for 2014-2015 NSLI-Y programs are expected to be available at www.nsliforyouth.org in the early fall. For information about U.S. Department of State-sponsored exchange programs visit www.exchanges.state.gov.