Luther College recently announced Audrey Fashimpaur, class of 2023, completed the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Spark program – a competitive and intensive 8-week online course where Fashimpaur was immersed in Chinese language and culture to learn Mandarin.
She was one of 500 students – both undergraduate and graduate – from across the country selected for the program this year.
The scholarship program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in an effort to increase the number of Americans studying critical languages such as Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Urdu, Hindi and Mandarin. In addition to learning the language, CLS recipients also gain access to cultural knowledge to promote rapid language learning.
“I chose to apply to the program because I have always loved learning languages, and I feel it is vital to becoming a well-rounded member of a diverse community,” Fashimpaur said. “Mandarin is one of the most-spoken languages in the world, meaning I can connect with more people.”
Fashimpaur, who majored in art with minors in chemistry, biology and art history, is now teaching English for a year in Kagoshima-Ken, Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. She will practice her Japanese language while abroad and plans to visit Taiwan or China to practice speaking Mandarin. After completing the JET program, she hopes to attend dental school and pursue a career in oral surgery.
As a CLS recipient, Fashimpaur – a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa – is part of a coalition of scholars that represent a broad diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. Recipients of the 2023 CLS awards are from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Students come from more than 200 higher education institutions including public and private universities, community colleges and military academies.
“I highly recommend anyone look into one of the Critical Language Scholarship programs if you already have a strong background in a language and would like to be more immersed with the culture or if you’re interested in an intensive introductory program,” Fashimpaur said.