The U.S. State Department rewarded Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) to three Carleton students: Daniel Brodkin ’18 (Darien, Conn.), Max Esslinger ’17 (Los Gatos, Calif.), and Nicholas Lorenz ’17 (Fairfield, Pa.) earlier this month. The scholarship is part of a U.S. Government program to increase the number of citizens studying critical foreign languages. These students join a cohort of over 550 students from across the U.S. who received the scholarship.
Brodkin, who first heard about the opportunity through his advisor and professor of history and director of medieval and renaissance studies, Bill North, said the application process wasn’t easy. “Writing about yourself always feels uncomfortable at first, especially since it’s basically a whole new genre of composition which most of us don’t have so much practice in,” he said. After several rounds of rewrites, he was ready to submit.
Brodkin will travel to Indonesia to study Indonesian dialects. He began his study of the language in a linguistics class at Carleton. While in Indonesia, Brodkin will study Javanese, which despite being used by over 90 million people, doesn’t have status at a national level and isn’t very well documented. His work to learn and document the language will be integral to his linguistics comps next year. For Brodkin, the scholarship is a stepping-stone to a larger career working on Indonesian languages. “I want to go to grad school, study linguistics, and return to Indonesia later on,” said Brodkin. “I’ve had this vision for a while, so I’m really glad to have this opportunity to connect so directly with the work I want to pursue in my future.”
Similarly, Esslinger was first introduced to Chinese through a separate academic discipline at Carleton. Esslinger, political science/international relations major, started studying Chinese because of an interest in Chinese politics and diplomacy. He took a leave of absence after his junior year to pursue studies in China. “I plan to continue studying Chinese because it is fun, and because it offers a window into Chinese culture to which non-Chinese speakers don’t really have access,” said Esslinger. In the hopes of developing his Chinese language skills to a professional level, Esslinger is participating in an eight-week language intensive program in Xi’an, China.
Lorenz will focus his efforts on studying Arabic. He was first introduced to Arabic when he lived in Cairo with his family as a teenager. After a brief hiatus, an Arabic Music class reignited his passion for the language spring term of his first year at Carleton. His passion for Arabic led him to discover his passion for the study of religion, particularly Islam. During his time at Carleton, he’s had the opportunity to study in Jordan and Morocco and further develop his command of the language.
His senior year, Lorenz was accepted to the University of Chicago Divinity School for a Master’s program in Islamic Studies. Lorenz knew that for further studying, fluency in Arabic would be paramount for his success. When he heard from a professor about the CLS program, he jumped at the opportunity. “Even since returning from Morocco in 2015 I’ve felt my speaking skills get rustier,” said Lorenz. “I’m really excited to resume living in an environment where English is rarely spoken, as I believe this will help me dramatically improve my Arabic.”