Campus News Society & Culture

Two from UGA receive U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships

Alice Naghshineh Morocco-v
Alice Naghshineh


Athens, Ga. – A University of Georgia student and a recent graduate have been selected to study the Arabic language while abroad this summer through the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship program. Cassidy Lyon will travel to Tangier, Morocco, and Alice Naghshineh will study in Madaba, Jordan. The participants will join about 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who will spend eight to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes across the globe.

Lyon is a 2016 graduate who majored in international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs and hails from Newnan. This fall she begins her master’s program in Washington, D.C., at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Lyon says that the CLS program will be key to pursuing her own research while in graduate school.

“It’s always great to be surrounded by people who are doing incredible things with their passions for language and culture,” Lyon said. “I spent last summer in Marrakech, Morocco, through UGA’s study abroad program and fell in love with the country. I have many friends there that I can’t wait to see again.

“The Arabic language is an incredibly beautiful and difficult language, so I’m looking forward to having a completely immersive experience with the language for eight weeks. We also will be taking some Moroccan dialect lessons, which will help me connect more with Moroccan culture and people. … The connections, friendships, and support from the CLS community are going to give me incredible opportunities to further my knowledge of language and culture.”

Naghshineh is a senior Honors student from Marietta, majoring in Arabic and mathematics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and economics in the Terry College of Business. Last summer she studied the Persian language in Tajikistan, where she was placed with a local family for two months through the Critical Language Scholarship program. Her experiences earned her a Fulbright grant to return to Tajikistan, where she will perform economic development research this fall.

“This was one of the most significant experiences of my life,” Naghshineh said. “My [host] family will be the first people I visit upon my return [to Tajikistan]. I was thrilled to discover that I also will be staying with a family during this summer’s program in Madaba, Jordan. I look forward to laughing with a new family, growing with them and, inevitably, embarrassing myself in front of them.

“I hope to work as a development economist within the Middle East-North Africa region. … I know that talking with people, in their own languages and with an intimate familiarity of their culture, must be a central component to any research I do in the future. CLS has been and will be crucial to realizing this desire.”

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages, such as Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

The program provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. CLS program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education.

“The Critical Language Scholarship program provides an incredible opportunity for both of these students to further their Arabic language studies at UGA,” said Colleen Larson, education abroad adviser in the Office of International Education. “Both women already have demonstrated their interest in and experience learning Arabic-a requirement to apply for this particular CLS scholarship. Both also are alumnae of the UGA Islam, Islamic Culture and Arabic study abroad program in Morocco, and Alice previously received a prestigious Boren Scholarship to study abroad in the United Arab Emirates for the 2013-14 academic year.”

The Office of International Education supports the University of Georgia’s academic, research and outreach missions and strategic directions through the promotion of global learning experiences for students, the sponsorship and support of international students, scholars, faculty and staff, and the development of international research and instructional partnerships and collaborations. For more information, visit