Whitman student receives prestigious scholarship to study Korean

May 2, 2013
Xialing Ann Chen
Xialing Ann Chen '14

The U.S. Department of State has awarded Xialing Ann Chen ’14 with a 2013 Critical Language Scholarship award to study one of 13 languages deemed crucial to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. 

Chen, a film and media studies major, is one of approximately 610 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a CLS scholarship from the U.S. Department of State this year. The scholarship is one of the most competitive in the country, with only about 11 percent of applicants accepted.

“It is important for me to study Korean, because I am fascinated with Korean popular culture and media,” Chen said. “I do not speak Korean at all, but his program will improve my language proficiency tremendously.”

CLS participants like Chen will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes this summer to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish or Urdu.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

“South Korea, despite having a relatively small population, produces and exports media content to more than a billion other Asians,” Chen said.

“I want to study how and why this Korean wave propagates. As I pursue my goal to become an international filmmaker, with Korea as a primary focus, I know that knowledge of Korean will open many doors that are crucial to that goal.”

Selected finalists for the 2013 CLS Program hail from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions and community colleges.