Elon students awarded State Department scholarships

Elon University senior Alexandra “Allie” Barteldt and junior Benjamin Lutz have each received a Critical Language Scholarship from the federal government to study Hindi in Asia, and Arabic in Africa, respectively.

Two Elon University students travel overseas this summer as part of a federal scholarship program to further their studies in foreign languages critical to U.S. diplomacy and outreach.

Senior Alexandra “Allie” Barteldt and junior Benjamin Lutz are among the approximately 550 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students selected for the U.S. Department of State’s 2016 Critical Language Scholarship Program.

The program supports the study of Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu languages and provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to increase language fluency and cultural competency.

Scholarship recipients spend a minimum of 20 hours each week in the classroom with extracurricular activities that include regular one-on-one meetings with native speaker language partners, as well as activities to expand their understanding of the history, politics, culture and daily life of the host country.

Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. 

It is Barteldt’s second consecutive summer traveling to Jaipur, India, to study Hindi with support from the federal scholarship program. Meanwhile, Lutz will visit Tangier, Morocco, to enhance his Arabic fluency. He had previously traveled to Meknes, Morocco, in 2014.

The Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Recipients hail from institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions and community colleges.

Participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Over the past year, Barteldt – a religious studies major from Mooresville, North Carolina – has studied and served in Asia, Africa and Central America. She volunteered as an English teacher in both India and Senegal. While in India, she also worked in a battered women’s shelter. In Senegal, Barteldt volunteered in an artist community.

During the 2016 Winter Term, Barteldt traveled to Guatemala, where she volunteered in a hospital for physically and mentally disabled elderly women. She spent time as well with elderly citizens at an organization for retired women.

Barteldt is involved in Elon’s Odyssey Scholarship Program and is an Elon Engagement Scholar, a 2013 ThinkImpact Scholar, and a 2014 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar.

“I have always been in love with languages, and a second summer of CLS will provide me with more experience in what I consider to be my strongest skill sets: cultural immersion and language acquisition,” Barteldt said. “I know first hand that language fluency can’t be attained in the eight months I’ve already committed to Hindi—another summer will provide me with new experiences and new people, along with more depth in a language I have grown to love.”

Barteldt is applying to several study abroad programs to work next year as an assistant director abroad or as a domestic representative, in addition to applying to various nonprofit organizations in India. Additionally, the State Department encourages Gilman and Critical Language Scholarship participants to pursue careers through the State Department, and Barteldt said she plans on exploring these possibilities as well.

Barteldt is the daughter of Diane Araps of Mooresville, North Carolina, and Bruce and Debbie Barteldt of Davidson, North Carolina.

Now in his third year of studies at Elon and currently overseas in Jordan, Lutz is an international studies and political science double major from Marietta, Georgia.

The Elon College Fellow is the recipient of a Katharine DuPont Weymouth Scholarship and funding from the Carole and Doug Bruns Endowment for International Service-Learning. He currently is researching the Jordanian refugee crisis from June 2012 – June 2016 to best understand the government of Jordan’s reaction now in comparison to previous refugee influxes from Palestine in 1948 and 1967, and from Iraq in 2003.

“My goal is to become proficient in Arabic, and the more time I can spend immersed in an area that speaks Arabic, the faster I can attain this goal,” Lutz said. “My summer in Morocco and current semester in Jordan are greatly improving my linguistic acquisition, and I am so excited to have another two months fully immersed in the Arabic language with the aid of the CLS program.”

Lutz praised Shereen Elgamal, who teaches Arabic at Elon University, for suggesting he apply to the Critical Language Scholarship Program.

At Elon, Lutz serves as a student ambassador for the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, as co-coordinator of the Poverty Simulation program, and as a member of Model United Nations, the Arabic Language Organization, Hillel, the Intellectual Climate Working Group, Global Ambassadors, and the LEAD Program.

Though more than a year away from graduation, Lutz is already making plans to continue his education. He hopes to pursue a master’s degree in peace and conflict resolution followed by a doctorate in international studies with a focus on the Middle East. He aspires to a career in Middle East peace and conflict diplomacy and wants to live within the region itself to aid the regional and local levels of diplomatic missions.

Lutz is the son of Nancy and Dennis Lutz, Marietta, Georgia.

Elon students and recent alums interested in this award or other nationally competitive fellowships are invited to visit the National and International Fellowships Office on the first floor of Powell building or by emailing fellowships@elon.edu.

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