The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Four University students awarded 2024 Critical Language Scholarship for summer studies

Simran Gupte

Earlier this year, the Critical Language Scholarship program announced the 2024 United States Department of State CLP recipients. Out of over 5,000 applicants countrywide, four University students received this year’s scholarship.

The recipients include Sylvia Techmanski, sophomore in AHS and LAS; Shireen Aydogan, senior in LAS; Xavier Davenport, graduate student studying music; and Karel Pene, sophomore in LAS.

Sponsored by the U.S. government, the CLP will support approximately 500 American undergraduate and graduate students to study one of the 14 foreign languages important to the nation this summer for approximately two months.

Each of these awarded University students consequently has the opportunity to improve their foreign language abilities while exploring other countries.

“Within the program, my hope is to bring my Mandarin level to a point where I can effectively thrive as a professor in the future,” Davenport said. “I spent two years in Taiwan previously making sure that I could colloquially converse in Mandarin, but I am not quite where I need to be a professor. Hopefully, this will push me that a little bit.”

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Davenport will study Chinese in Taiwan, while Pene will study Korean in South Korea.

“I am hoping to, as part of the program, level up my speaking skills,” Pene said. “I am looking forward to being surrounded by the language during the summer.”

In addition to allowing the recipients to immerse themselves in the local cultures, studying foreign languages abroad also provides a great chance to connect and enrich their studies here at the University.

As a music student who will be playing jazz in Taiwan, Davenport mentioned that improving his Chinese skills can help him work and interact with local music groups more effectively.

“There is a common misconception that music is like a universal language; it’s not,”  Davenport said. “People communicate different things and have different training experiences. So, in order for me to effectively work with Taiwanese musicians in jazz or any other context, I do need a certain level of Mandarin ability to communicate with them.”

Similarly, as someone who wants to pursue a career in global affairs and study East Asia at the University, Pene mentioned that CLS and learning Korean can help her be one step closer to her goals.

“I am hoping that I can become a foreign service officer working with the U.S. government, or just more broadly, to enter a career that allows me to use my language skills to help communities around the world,” Pene said.

Aside from the intensive language classes in the summer, the scholarship also gives the recipients chances to partake in the experiences and activities they will not be able to have in the U.S., letting them look forward to it.

“I get to revisit friends I have made in Taiwan that I haven’t gotten to see since I finished my master’s there,” Davenport said.


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