Communicating Across Borders
Imagine traveling overseas to experience firsthand what it means to live and learn in another country. Two UNH students will do exactly that after receiving Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Abrita Kuthumi '21, an English major, received her CLS to study Korean.
Kuthumi, who was born and raised in Nepal and immigrated to America at the age of 10, says the CLS “means having the privilege, as an American citizen, to become an ambassador overseas where, due to cultural differences, people have certain preconceived ideas of what it means to be an American that differ from the truth.”
Receiving the CLS as a first-year student came as a big surprise. “I started jumping around in Hamilton Smith and rushed to inform my family and friends about such great news,” she says, adding, “even after having read the email multiple times, it still astonishes me.”
Kuthumi sees this as an opportunity to enhance her studies at UNH. “Studying and practicing Korean for the summer in Busan, South Korea, is going to help me become an articulate speaker, a better listener and an improved writer. Moreover, it will help me utilize those life skills to interact with people on a global scale,” she says. “Whether I end up becoming a Korean language professor or an immigration lawyer, these skills — in addition to what I learn in my classes — will prepare me for lifelong study.”
Eden Suoth ’18, a Fulbright Scholar who has studied philosophy and mathematics at UNH, received his CLS to study Bahasa Indonesia, the country's national language.
“To me, the CLS is an opportunity to equip myself with the means to explore and understand other cultures, and in my case — being Indonesian and receiving an Indonesian CLS — to better understand my family and where I came from,” says Suoth.
Although this is Suoth’s second CLS, he did not expect such recognition. “To have been granted this award was super surprising and, in many ways, affirming,” he says.
When Suoth traveled to Indonesia on his first CLS, he explains, he gained language skills that helped him both communicate with members of the local Indonesian community in New Hampshire and improve his ability to read Indonesian research papers.
“Being awarded the CLS also gave me confidence in my candidacy for national scholarships, which led me to apply for the Fulbright research grant to Indonesia,” he explains. “For this upcoming CLS, I hope to gain the skills necessary to be able to conduct interviews and do archival research during my Fulbright grant duration.”
The CLS Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program that includes both intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. It is part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that have been identified as critical to national security and economic prosperity.