Language lovers

Three Friends students have received National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships to study foreign language abroad this summer for seven weeks. Ryan Hardy ’19 and Halle Shephard ’18 will study Russian in Estonia and Latvia, respectively, and Jimena Guallar-Blasco ’20 will study Korean in Seoul, South Korea.

The highly selective merit scholarships cover all costs for the students, who will live with host families during their stay, attend language classes, and participate in a variety of learning opportunities, including cultural excursions to different parts of the country and partnerships with local high school students.

Friends does not offer its students Korean as a language elective. Jimena, an Upper School French student, has been studying Korean outside of school and has traveled to South Korea during summers with her father, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Friends students have consistently distinguished themselves in the study of Russian, earning NSLI-Y scholarships and recognition at the state and international level in spoken Russian Olympiadas. Since 2009, five Friends students have received full-year NSLI-Y scholarships, and approximately 20 have been awarded seven-week summer scholarships to study Russian abroad.

The School’s storied Russian language program dates back to 1956, when history teacher Claire Walker – one year before Russia launched Sputnik – began teaching students the then-“forbidden” language. (At the time, the School was one of only 16 U.S. high schools, public or private, to offer Russian.)

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program was launched in 2006 to promote critical language learning among American youth. The U.S. Department of State, in cooperation with American Councils for International Education, awards and administers merit-based scholarships to high school students for participation in summer and academic year immersion programs in locations where the seven NSLI-Y languages (Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Tajiki, and Turkish) are spoken.
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