A Louisiana State University student from Leesville will study the Chinese language abroad in Xi'an, China this summer.

A Louisiana State University student from Leesville will study the Chinese language abroad in Xi'an, China this summer. 

Nani’Kiele Cruz, of Leesville, is a senior majoring in English in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. She has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Chinese in Xi’an, China, during the summer of 2017.

The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS, program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. Cruz is one of approximately 550 competitively selected American students at U.S. colleges and universities who received a CLS award in 2017.

CLS provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

“Critical” languages are those that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential for America’s engagement with the world. CLS plays an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce, increasing American competitiveness, and contributing to national security. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries.

CLS participants represent a broad diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. CLS actively recruits in states and regions of the United States that have been historically under-represented in international education. Recipients of the 2017 CLS awards include students from over 200 institutions of higher education across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges.

Since 2006, CLS has awarded scholarships to more than 5,200 American students to learn critical languages around the world. CLS scholars are among the more than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These exchange programs build respect and positive relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education.

Cruz is LSU’s fifth student to receive the Critical Language Scholarship joining Logan de La Barre-Hays, a native of Jackson, Miss., who received the award in 2013 and 2014; Ryan Sartor, a native of Metairie, La., who received the award in 2014 and 2015; Belinda Nsuami, a native of LaPlace, La., who received the award in 2015; and Rachel Keller, a native of West Monroe, La., who also received the award in 2015.

For further information about the Critical Language Scholarship or other exchange programs offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please contact ECA-Press@state.gov and visit http://www.clscholarship.org/ or https://studyabroad.state.gov/.