The multidisciplinary new major was approved by Connecticut College faculty in November.
Jyoti Arvey '14, right, and her Russian language tutor enjoy an outing in Ufa, Russia.
Jyoti Arvey '14 and Molly Resnick '14 are learning a year's worth of foreign language and culture - in eight short weeks. The rising juniors at Connecticut College each have received a Critical Language Scholarship from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to study in a foreign country in an intensive language program.
Arvey complements her Slavic studies major at a program in Ufa, Russia, while Resnick, a double major in dance and biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology is exploring her interest in the Korean language in Jeonju, South Korea.
CLS scholarships cover the language program costs, including travel, room and board. Students must demonstrate a commitment and strong love for a language in this highly selective program.
Resnick and Arvey are living with native families in their respective countries, giving them each an authentic cultural experience. "Every day I wake up at 6:15 a.m. to get ready for school and eat a Korean breakfast with my family. Breakfast, like all meals in Korea, always includes rice and an array of side dishes like kimchi and bean sprouts," Resnick said.
She and her host brother, age 12, and host sister, age 15, all prepare for school together, with the help of Resnick's host mother. Resnick's program also facilitates cultural understanding through classes and lectures led by local artists and professors, as well as excursions to experience traditional life in South Korea. She has already had the opportunity to make kimchi in a Korean village, attend a tea ceremony and try on traditional Korean dress called hanbok.
Arvey's program is similarly structured, with several hours of language instruction per day, followed by conversations with Russian tutors and trips to local destinations. In her first few excursions, Arvey was able to visit Russian monuments, follow a tour guide speaking entirely in Russian and see a theatrical performance in the language. After long days of class work or travel, Arvey is able to unwind in her host home, where she's considered part of the family. She says her experience lives up to the expectations she had before leaving for Russia.
"Living in Russia for two months will give me great firsthand insights into Russian culture that will inform my studies for the rest of my time at Conn and in graduate school," she said earlier this summer. "What most excites me about the summer program is the opportunity it will give me to form strong personal and academic relationships in Russia, and the chance for me to grow not only as a student, but in personal ways as well."
Arvey and Resnick are determined to improve their language skills through their respective programs, and Resnick says CLS students take a pledge to speak only their foreign language while at school, at home with their families and during activities.
"The language pledge ensures immersion, but also leads to amusing situations," she says. "Conversations that in English take two minutes suddenly take 20 minutes. Students use a variety of techniques such as drawing and charades to convey what they want to say. Though difficult at times, the language pledge is worth the frustrations."
Both students also have plans to return to these countries in the near future. As a scholar in the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, Arvey is using this experience to shape her integrative project for the center and wants to return to Russia to complete a College-funded internship next summer. Resnick hopes to receive a Fulbright scholarship in order to live in Korea for a year of research or language study after graduating, before ultimately attending medical school.
- By Bailey Bennett '14
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