For Lydia Sanchez '18, the road to her Boren Scholarship began with a trip to Argentina as an exchange student and a Google search.
As a Boren Scholar, Lydia will be traveling to Morocco to study at the Qalam wa Lawh Center for Arabic Studies. She’s hoping to use the experience as preparation for a federal government career in foreign service.
In Morocco, Lydia will take courses in modern standard and Moroccan colloquial Arabic, and two other elective courses in disciplines including Middle East and North African studies, political science, religion, women’s studies, history, or Amazigh studies.
Lydia’s interest in a foreign-service career began as a sophomore in high school, when she spent the academic year in Argentina as an exchange student.
“It changed my life,” says Lydia. “It forced me to understand a different culture, government, and way of thinking.”
Once back home in Rhode Island, Lydia decided that going right from high school to college wasn’t going to provide the sort of experience she was looking for. So she turned to the world’s most popular search engine.
“I Googled ‘State Department Exchange Programs’ and by the end of the day I announced to my parents that I wanted to go to Oman to study Arabic,” she recalls.
And in the fall of 2013 she did just that through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. She lived in Oman for eight months and received 15 hours of Arabic instruction weekly.
A political science major, Lydia plans to continue her Arabic studies when she returns from Morocco by enrolling in Arabic courses at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania, made possible through Bryn Mawr’s consortium with those schools.
Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.