State Department awards Critical Language Scholarship to 2 at UOG


Monita Paul

Two University of Guam students—including one who is from Saipan—have been awarded scholarships through a federal program designed to further their study of foreign languages critical to national security and economic prosperity.

From a nationwide pool of over 4,600 applicants, UOG students Monita Paul and Lourdes Mafnas were selected for the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship. The scholarship program supports the study of 15 critical languages and provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences. Students typically spend eight to 10 weeks studying abroad, although most of this year’s CLS institutes will be offered as a virtual program due to the ongoing pandemic.

Paul, a Saipan resident and a Saipan Southern High School alumna, enrolled in the program because of her desire to communicate with family members. She is studying the Bangla language remotely this summer through the American Institute of Indian Studies in Kolkata, India.

“I am of Bengali heritage, specifically from my father’s side of the family, but I am unable to read, write, or even speak the language fluently,” said Paul, who is a Biology major at UOG. “I am looking forward to coming out from the program with the ability to communicate with my father’s side of the family. I’m also hoping to use the experience and knowledge I gain for my future career in the medical field.”

Mafnas, an environmental science graduate student, said she applied for the program because it looked like an amazing opportunity to explore another culture and visit another country. Regardless of not being able to study abroad this year, Mafnas wanted to continue with the program because she believed it could open doors to other careers and opportunities.

She is studying the Indonesian language remotely through the Universitas Negri Malang in Malang, Indonesia, one of the program’s partner institutes. Mafnas said she chose the language because of her interest in Indonesia’s culture, history, people, and environment. (UOG)

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