Campus News

UGA students spent summer abroad studying critical languages

Athens, Ga. – Ten University of Georgia students participated in summer language institutes abroad as recipients of 2011 Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. Department of State.

The U.S. Department of State created the Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes program in 2006 to increase opportunities for U.S. students to study critical-need languages abroad that are deemed essential to the U.S. in fostering international relations. These ten UGA recipients are among the approximately 575 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country who participated in seven- to ten-week intensive immersion programs in 13 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Turkish.

The summer 2011 participants who studied Arabic abroad are seniors Elizabeth Allan of Atlanta; Amnah Hillou of Lawrenceville; Mai Himedan of Lawrenceville; Matthew Sweat of Fayetteville; junior Christelle Lorin of Kennesaw; and recent spring graduate Laura Eaton of Watkinsville.

Senior Aisha Mahmood of Kennesaw studied in China, while seniors Amarachi Anukam of Athens and Samantha Gray of Springfield, Va. traveled to Japan. Duncan Lien of Atlanta, another spring graduate, studied in Turkey.

Allan, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Arabic, economics and international affairs and a master’s degree in international policy, studied in Fes, Morocco, her second trip to the country. Also an Honors student, she has been involved with policy writing and analysis through her membership with the UGA chapter of the Roosevelt Institute. Allan would like to work for the Middle East bureau of the United States Agency for International Development.

Hillou, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Arabic, also visited Fes, Morocco. While at UGA, she has served in leadership roles for student groups Athens for Justice in Palestine and Dawgs for Disaster Relief. A member of the Honors Program, she also interned in the conflict resolutions (Middle East) program at the Carter Center. Hillou plans to attend law school and focus on international law.

Himedan, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Arabic and biochemistry and molecular biology, participated in language study in Amman, Jordan. She has conducted research in both majors as a member of the Honors Program and as a scholar of the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. Himedan plans to earn an M.D. and work in the Middle East through Doctors Without Borders.

Sweat, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in history, political science and Arabic, also studied in Jordan. A former UGA football player, Sweat is currently on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was one of the UGA representatives at the NCAA Student Athlete Leadership Forum last fall. He also volunteers for service projects through UGA’s Alternative Spring Break. Sweat would like to work for the U.S. Department of State or serve in the military.

Lorin, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in international affairs, Arabic and history, also visited Jordan. She completed another Arabic language program in Morocco in summer 2010. She is a member of the Arab Cultural Association and the European Student Union at UGA. Lorin’s career goals include working for the federal government or a non-profit organization focused on international diplomacy or human rights.

Eaton, who graduated in May with bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and Arabic, traveled to Tangier, Morocco. She previously studied in the country as a recipient of the 2009 National Security Education Program David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship for international language study. Eaton, who was in the Honors Program, would like to pursue a federal career in international diplomacy as a translator and analyst.

Mahmood, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology and Chinese, traveled to Shanghai, China, her third time to the country. As a Gilman International Scholar last summer, she participated in the Intensive Chinese Language Program in Harbin, China through CET Academic Programs, a Washington, D.C.-based private study abroad organization. Mahmood, who is in the Honors Program, plans to attend law school.

Anukam, who is enrolled in the Honors Program and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and behavior, studied in Kyoto, Japan. At UGA, she has participated in undergraduate research in public health through UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities as an apprentice and summer fellow. With career interests focused on global health issues, Anukam plans to participate in the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program after graduation.

Gray also traveled to Japan. An Honors student, she is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in graphic design and Japanese language and literature. The summer before her sophomore year, she represented UGA as a participant in the Japanese Language and Culture Summer Program at Kobe University in Kobe, Japan. Gray would like to combine her two bachelor’s degrees and work in Japan as a graphic designer.

Lien, who received bachelor’s degrees in German and comparative literature in May, participated in a Turkish language course in Bursa, Turkey. He previously traveled to Germany and studied at the University of Heidelberg. Lien plans to pursue graduate studies in comparative literature, focused on Turkish and German literature and society.

For more information on the Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes, see