A Roseburg High School student received the National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the 2017-18 year.
Jessica Lum, 16, will study Mandarin in China over the summer, where she will receive formal language instruction and practice in a culturally inclusive environment.
“I always wanted to learn Mandarin, and I thought this program would be a great opportunity,” Lum said. “My family is Chinese and a lot of my ancestors are from China, so I wanted to connect to my culture and that’s why I have such a big interest in Mandarin.”
Lum always had a fascination for learning other languages. Apart from studying Mandarin, she is also learning French at Roseburg High School. She aspires to someday have a career involving her interest in linguistics.
The NSLI-Y program provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students or recent graduates to learn a foreign language including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian or Russian. Participants spend a summer or academic year immersed in the culture of their chosen host country.
“When I found out that I won a NSLI-Y scholarship, I was beyond excited and couldn’t believe it,” Lum said.
Lum is one of approximately 600 competitively selected students from across the U.S. who will receive the scholarship to study foreign language abroad. She started her application for the NSLI-Y program in December, when she answered multiple essay questions and participated in an extensive interview process.
At first, Lum was apprehensive to apply for the program because she thought the odds of her winning were small. As a result, her advice to other students interested in the program is to simply apply.
“When I was first applying I didn’t think I had a chance, but I did and there are other languages you can choose from, not just Chinese,” Lum said. “If you are interested in learning about other cultures, just go for it and don’t be afraid.”