Frank Le

UAlbany Student Receives Prestigious Scholarship to Study Japanese

Frank Le, a senior at the University at Albany, decided to study abroad in Japan at Kansai Gaidi University in the spring of 2013. Little did he know how much the experience would change him, since soon after returning back to the United States, he began looking at other opportunities to return to Japan after graduation.  Such an opportunity was presented to Frank this past winter through the the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, a program that will give him the chance to return to Japan this summer in the city of Himeji.

The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS, is a scholarship program that is sponsored by the government to promote intensive learning of critical languages. It is fully-funded by the government (including airfare, room and board) and takes place during the summer. A program like this is very convenient for busy people majoring in fields that require specific core classes each semester. Much like studying abroad at a university, you can also earn school credits from participating in the program. Some of the target languages for the CLS require some prior knowledge of the language, but for other languages, no knowledge is acceptable.

I learned about this scholarship through the help of a friend’s tip. I could say I was quite lucky at the time when I first caught wind of it, considering the deadline. I never would have guessed that I would be accepted into the program which is why I think it is definitely worthwhile to check the eligibility requirements for the program. As a graduating senior in Economics and Japanese Studies, I will be able to participate in the program during the summer following my graduation! Going abroad may be difficult financially, which is why I recommend this program to not only students who are financially burdened, but are also aiming to use the target language in the future.

The reason for applying to the scholarship program was to have another chance to go to Japan and study Japanese. Having once studied in Japan already, I think that I behaved more like a tourist rather than someone trying to become accustomed to Japanese culture. That did not detract from my first experience however. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a touristy student, but this program would allow me to have another chance to live in Japan and experience it from the perspective of a local. The Japanese program at Himeji Dokkyo University is quite language intensive and involves full participation in the Japanese community. My personal goal after finishing this program is to speak conversational Japanese without hesitation. If I can accomplish this, I’ll probably shed a bucket of tears.

As for getting accepted, I saw myself as any other applicant desperately trying to attain the CLS. I attribute my success to the people who gave me a chance to succeed. Without the help of a friend who referred me to the scholarship, the people carefully reviewing my essays, and my advisors writing the letters of recommendation, the scholarship would merely be a fleeting dream. Without the people supporting me, I doubt I could have received it with my efforts alone. I look forward to finishing registration and returning to Japan once more, but this time, with intent to study my heart out. Language learning is fun but requires large amounts of determination and enthusiasm.

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