Congratulations to NYU Abu Dhabi junior Caroline Manela and NYU New York senior Chris Fanikos (currently an NYUAD Resident Advisor) who have each been awarded a US State Department Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). They will spend their coming summers in the Moroccan cities of Meknes and Rabat, respectively, for intensive Arabic language study.
Launched in 2006, the CLS is a program of the US State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that offers fully funded overseas study of 13 languages including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Indonesian, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. More than 4,900 undergraduate and graduate students applied for the program this year, and Manela and Fanikos are two of approximately 600 winners who will continue to master their chosen language during intensive summer language institutes in countries around the world.
Manela began taking Arabic for the same reason as many of her NYUAD classmates — she thought it would be useful and important in order to navigate Abu Dhabi. While she soon found out that English is widely spoken in the capital, she decided to continue studying Arabic, for she had found a passion for the language. Manela accredits the warm and supportive class environments of her NYUAD Arabic professors Omima El Araby and Nasser Isleem, as well as the encouragement of classmates who shared the same difficulties in learning the language. She will make her way to Morocco from NYU New York, where she is currently spending the spring semester after fall semester at NYU Tel Aviv.
"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to live with a host family in Meknes, Morocco, this summer and to study at the Arab American Language Institute of Morocco," Manela said. "I'm looking forward to the language immersion and finally learning colloquial Arabic. I'm also hoping the four hours a day of class will help me expand my vocabulary and reading skills in preparation for my capstone research senior year."
For Fanikos — who is completing a double major in History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at NYUAD this semester — history courses sparked his interest in the Middle East. When he began studying Arabic during his junior year, he quickly learned to love the language's intricate yet logical grammar and construction and, furthermore, felt for the first time that he was learning something applicable post-graduation.
Having attended the American University of Beirut's Center for Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies Summer Intensive program in the summer of 2012, Fanikos looks forward to his time in Morocco. "Knowing the unlikely odds of winning the scholarship, I was surprised upon receiving an email notifying me that I had made the first cut; likewise that I was a finalist; likewise that I had won. I was ecstatic. Such excitement was compounded when I learned that my program location was to be Rabat, Morocco."