University of Richmond junior Megan Higgins has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Chinese in Tainan, Taiwan, this summer. Higgins is from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages, which the U.S Department of State defines as those languages less commonly taught in U.S. schools but essential for America’s engagement with the world.

CLS scholarship winners spend eight to ten weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

“Given the rising economic and political importance of China to the United States, it is crucial for the U.S. government to gain a deep knowledge of Chinese culture,” Higgins said. “I believe this scholarship is part of strengthening understanding between our countries and ultimately increasing global stability.” 

Higgins is one of approximately 550 competitively selected American students to receive a 2017 CLS award.

She is majoring in international studies with a concentration in world politics and diplomacy and minoring in Chinese studies.

“While on scholarship, I will be completely immersed in Taiwanese culture with Mandarin classes and a host family,” Higgins explained. “A major program component is to not speak English at all while I’m there.”

Following this scholarship, Higgins will intern at the U.S. State Department embassy in Vienna this fall. She aspires to work in the Foreign Service.

“I am drawn to the prospect of using my skills to secure American interests while expanding my global outlook,” Higgins said.

Seven University of Richmond students have previously received this scholarship, with one student receiving it three times. Those students have studied Arabic, Bangla, Punjabi and Turkish in Morocco, Oman, Bangladesh, India, Turkey and Egypt.

For more information, visit clscholarship.org.

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