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Emily Austin–Critical Language Scholarship

Name: Emily Austin

Class Year: 2018

Hometown: Russellville, Arkansas

Major(s): Religion, Art History

Opportunity and Year: Critical Language Scholarship Program, 2018-19

Project Summary: This CLS is an 8-week intensive language learning program on-site in Malang, Indonesia, at the Universitas Negeri Malang. Along with language classes there are structured cultural enrichment experiences, meant to rapidly make language gains. The purpose of the CLS is to increase the number of Americans who are fluent in needed ‘critical’ languages, one of which is Indonesian.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? By allowing me to study abroad in such an interesting location, W&L helped lay the groundwork for my interest in Southeast Asia. My professors and advisors all worked with me to prepare me for the unknown, and to give me resources to begin to learn Bahasa Indonesia and study the culture.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? While abroad, I quickly became enamored with the culture of Indonesia, and I found the language exhilarating to learn as it allowed me to connect with the people I met. The more Indonesian I knew, the more I was able to talk with other diners at warungs (small street-side restaurants) and understand the jokes of Indonesian college students. My career aspirations include working in the Foreign Service, connecting more with this part of the world and representing United States’ interests abroad.

Post-graduation Plans: I will be attending the CLS for the summer 2018; therefore, I have deferred my placement with Teach for America in Tulsa, Oklahoma which will start the summer of 2019. During the fall and winter of 2018-2019, I will be completing a Master’s program in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) at Arkansas Tech University in my hometown. I plan to teach English at foreign universities in South and Southeast Asia after my two-year TFA commitment before applying to the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? The CLS is a huge leg up for me in my language learning, especially with a language like Indonesian, where not many opportunities to study it exist in the United States. My long-term goals are to join the Foreign Service in some capacity, and the knowledge of a critical language (in an area of the world that I am extremely interested in) is crucial.

Extracurricular Involvement:

Contact Committee; Panhellenic Council; Chi Omega; SPEAK; W&L International Education Committee; Project Horizon volunteer

Off-campus Experience:

I spent Winter term of my Junior year in Indonesia, on the islands of Java and Bali, studying art and religion. The following summer I conducted research in South India (Chennai, Mumbai, Badami, Aurangabad, and Ellora)

Research Experience:

The summer of 2017 I received the Student Summer Independent Research grant to conduct preliminary research for my Religion Honors Thesis in Indonesia and South India.

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