August 31, 2014
Dear Foreign Language Representative:
My name is Katrina Spencer and I am a student in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I write to inform you regarding an unique learning opportunity offered every summer through Middlebury College. Students from Historically Black Universities and Collleges (HBCUs) can receive full funding to attend, an estimated $8,310 value for costs of tuition, room and board. I have attended the schools twice studying both Spanish (2009) and Portuguese (2014) and can attest to their quality and impact. Middlebury College offers intensive language programs in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. (Nine of these schools are held in the state of Vermont while the Arabic and Italian schools have recently been held in California.) The schools last between six and eight weeks and the students live in dorms, attending four hours of language classes Monday through Friday mornings and participating in optional activities during the afternoon and on weekends.
I find it urgently important to share this information with you as this summer only three black women participated in the Portuguese school, myself included, and I recognize the importance of not only bilingualism in a 21st century world, but also the rich opportunities for networking and for growth that arise every time we step out of our comfort zones, taking on new and unfamiliar experiences. Through the connections I made at Middlebury, I have taught English abroad in Spain, toured Washington, D.C. en route to interning at the Library of Congress and earned second and third families all over the world. Some of the most prominent figures within our community recognize the importance of being able to meaningfully engage with cultures outside of the United States: political writer Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks French and is a 2014 Middlebury alum; actor and rapper Will Smith speaks Spanish; and celebrated basketball player Kobe Bryant speaks Italian. I want to encourage this same spirit of multiculturalism with you and your students as I believe that the power of viewing one’s self as a citizen of the world will multiplies the number of opportunities we deem accessible and feasible.
Please share widely, promote heavily and advertise frequently your knowledge of these language schools and scholarship opportunities with your students of promise. The investment of energy is certainly high; Vermont and California are far; and attending a predominantly white institution (PWI) is likely new. But again, the rewards and gains are many; the learning is real; and seeing the world through a new linguistic lens is invaluable. Please find more information about the Language Schools and funding here: http://www.middlebury.edu/ls/finaid/fellowships/hbcu... Thank you for your time and attention. I hope this message inspires you. You may contact me to continue this conversation.