Categorized | Education

Tarnas wins scholarship to study language abroad


Parker School junior Maia Tarnas has been awarded one of approximately 625 National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships for 2013-2014.

The NSLI-Y program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly-taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs.

NSLI-Y offers overseas study opportunities in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkish.

The NSLI-Y scholarship enables Tarnas to study Arabic in Jordan for the summer. The scholarship covers all program costs for participants including domestic and international travel; tuition and related academic preparation; language testing; educational and cultural activities focused on language learning; orientations; meals; and accommodations, usually with a host family.

Tarnas and 19 other program participants will be studying at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan.

For the first three weeks of the program, Tarnas will live with a host family and for the last four in an apartment with one or two other students.

Launched as part of a U.S. government initiative in 2006, NSLI-Y seeks to increase Americans’ capacity to engage with native speakers of critical languages by providing formal instruction and informal language practice in an immersion environment.

Educational and cultural activities are designed to promote language learning and build mutual understanding and long-lasting relationships.

The goals of the NSLI-Y program include sparking a life-long interest in foreign languages and cultures, and developing a corps of young Americans with the skills necessary to advance international dialogue in the private, academic or government sectors, and build upon the foundations developed through person-to-person relationships while abroad.

Through her participation in the program, Tarnas will serve as a citizen diplomat while developing the skills necessary to be a leader in the global community.

“Maia will be a great ambassador for the country. I’m sure she will learn a lot. She’s got a lot of cultural sensitivity, and I’m sure she will do us proud, as always,” said Carl Sturges, Parker School headmaster.

NSLI-Y is administered by American Councils for International Education in cooperation with AFS-USA, American Cultural Exchange Service, Americans Promoting Study Abroad, AMIDEAST, iEARN-USA, Legacy International, and Russian American Foundation.

Tarnas, whose mother grew up in Lebanon, is looking forward to expanding upon the Arab influence she has already had in her life.

She said, “I’m very humbled and excited to have received this scholarship. It is an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to live, learn, and be completely immersed in a culture so interesting and different from our own.”

About learning Arabic, Tarnas said, “The Arabic language is gorgeous and this is the best way I could ever think of to learn it. Parker School deserves a huge thank you; my independence, world view, and love for exploration have come from my years there.”

Tarnas’ parents, Carolyn Stewart and David Tarnas, said, “We’re both very happy Maia was selected for the NSLI-Y program. She will gain a greater understanding of Jordan and its people by living in their unique culture and learning the Arabic language. In her own way, Maia will share some aloha spirit with those she meets in Jordan. This program will give Maia a chance to practice cross-cultural communication skills to help her grow as a global citizen. That’s important because international understanding at a personal level is essential to world peace and prosperity.”

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