Ethan Mayo, a sophomore at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, VA, has been selected to receive a 2019-20 National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship. Ethan will study Arabic in Amman, Jordan, for six weeks over the summer. The program includes approximately 120 hours of intensive language instruction as well as an immersive cultural experience.
Ethan’s family has lived in Saudi Arabia since he was four years old, when his father took a position with Saudi Aramco. Ethan became fascinated with the culture and started taking Arabic in sixth grade.
“Being able to speak Arabic is useful to people all around the world,” Ethan said. “Not many Americans are able to speak it, so if you do, it’s really valuable.”
NSLI-Y offers summer opportunities in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, and Turkish. When Ethan applied to the NSLI-Y program, he chose which language he wanted to focus on, but the program’s administrators selected the country in which he would study. Although he has been to Jordan before, Ethan said he is still looking forward to the time there this summer, especially as he will be living with a host family. “I’ll be able to experience a lot of new things there, because they have field trips where we’ll go to the markets, and historical sites like Petra,” he said. “We’ll be able to use our Arabic to talk to locals. Since it’s going to be so focused, I’m going to learn a lot more than I could in a year of a regular class.”
According to the NSLI-Y website, “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 eight NSLI-Y languages are spoken.” One of the primary goals of the program is to develop a lifetime interest in foreign languages and cultures. Ethan’s program is being implemented by America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc. (AMIDEAST).
For more information about NSLI-Y, visit https://www.nsliforyouth.org/.