As recipients of the U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship, three Whitman students will spend about two months this summer in intensive language courses around the world.

The CLS Program awarded approximately 550 scholarships this year to both undergraduates and graduate students. The program is part of a government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.  

Whitman College's recipients are Rania Mussa '14, who will study Arabic in Morocco, McCaulay Singer-Milnes '14, who will study Hindi in India, and Jacqueline Rees-Mikula '16, who will study Japanese.  

Since first visiting Japan at the age of three, Rees-Mikula has had a hankering to return. This summer, she will travel to Himeji, in the Kansai region, to improve her Japanese.  

"I was conflicted this year because I wanted to study abroad in both Japan and Serbia," Rees Mikula said. "Winning this scholarship made it possible for me to travel to both countries."  

A politics major, Rees-Mikula intends to pursue a career in international relations, and "having a chance to study Japanese language and culture in Japan is a significant step in that direction."  

English major Singer-Milnes studied abroad in India during her third year at Whitman.  

"I believe language is an essential component of immersion and thought the CLS Scholarship was a fantastic opportunity to improve my (very limited) Hindi," she said.  

Though Singer-Milnes admits to speaking only a little Hindi right now, she has also studied Mandarin and speaks conversational Spanish. "I enjoy learning new languages because of the process itself and the opportunities it provides to communicate and connect with people," she said.  

After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in South Asian studies, comparative literature, or - preferably - some combination of the two.

All CLS Program participants will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes in one of 13 countries to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish or Urdu. The goal is for participants to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.