Partridge awarded U.S. Dept. of State Critical Language Scholarship

Over 5,200 applicants to study critical-need languages overseas

Virginia Partridge '12

Virginia Partridge ‘12 had been looking for opportunities to study or work in Eastern Europe since she began taking Russian her sophomore year at Brandeis. Partridge recently learned that has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study in Russia this summer.

The scholarship program received over 5,200 applications from students who want to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish or Urdu.

Partridge, who is majoring in linguistics and mathematics, is one of approximately 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes this summer, in 14 countries where these languages are spoken.

Students from a range of academic disciplines and U.S. colleges and universities were chosen for the scholarships through a merit-based selection process.

Partridge studied in Germany during high school. She says that she became interested in the way the Cold War had impacted Germany, splitting it into east and west both politically and culturally. One reason she was drawn to the Russian language, she says, is to learn more about the culture in order to get a different perspective on topics in which she’d studied at Brandeis.

“Not only does the CLS scholarship provide the financial means, but the program is intense and focused on language immersion,” says Partridge. “I will stay with a host family and pledge to only speak Russian with other program participants, so it’s the best way to learn Russian.”

Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. 

“I hope to eventually work in computational linguistics,” says Partridge. “I'm especially interested in translation programs.”

Partridge says that Irina Y. Dubinina, director of the Brandeis Russian language program, has joined her in excitement since she received the award.

“She’s offering me extra tips on understanding fast colloquial Russian and what to expect about the region I will be staying in,” Partridge says.

The U.S. Department of State launched the Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas. The program is part of a wider U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical languages. 

CLS Program participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to promote mutual understanding and respect between people of the United States and other countries. 

“I was absolutely thrilled when I received the scholarship,” says Partridge. “I've actually been having a hard time thinking about anything else — I've been so excited.”

Categories: International Affairs, Student Life

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