Two West Virginia University students are taking steps to become more well-rounded global citizens while preparing for future careers in the federal government and learning a new language.
As recipients of the prestigious Boren Scholarship, Hunter Moore and Christelle Temple will spend the 2023-24 academic year abroad to fully immerse themselves in learning Russian and Swahili, respectively.
Funded by the National Security Education Program, the scholarship provides students from diverse fields the opportunity to travel to areas critical to United States interests and national security.
Moore, an aerospace engineering student from West Milford, said they believe spending nine months in Kazakhstan learning the Russian language and culture will be valuable as they move toward a career in the space industry.
“The field, especially crewed spaceflight, has a lot of international stakes and partnerships, including the U.S. and Russia collaboration on the International Space Station,” Moore said. “If I can be involved in the field and future programs by understanding Russian, then that's exciting to me.”
For them, the Boren Scholarship always felt like the best way to integrate language training and travel abroad — neither of which they have much experience with.
“This will be my first time leaving the country,” Moore said. “The immersive aspect of living abroad is going to be exciting and everything is going to be new, which is something that I love and I'm greatly looking forward to. At the same time, I'm nervous about coming from a technical, engineering background without any language training.”
They’re up for the challenge, however.
“I’m going to be in a space where I can’t effectively communicate,” Moore said. “How can I navigate it? It’ll be necessary to quickly build the language and social skills to be successful. I think having that kind of intense focus is going to be exciting and helpful for me.”
Growing up in a military family, travel has always been part of
“I spent my entire childhood traveling, whether that was moving or visiting countries around the world,” she said. “At a young age, I was exposed to many cultures, never holding one close to my own, but learning the importance of how culture can bring people together when you are willing to share and learn from it. After my parents retired, I continued to seek ways to expand my own knowledge of cultures around the world.”
Temple, a public relations major with minors in leadership and creative writing, heads to Tanzania this month to study Swahili as part of the African Flagship Language Initiative which aims to spread awareness about African culture and language through education.
“Africa is an entire continent full of culture that Americans do not know much about,” she said. “I think throwing yourself into different cultures is vital to understanding the world around you more as well as becoming a more empathetic individual.”
A member of the WVU Peace Corps Prep Program, Temple said the time abroad will help in her future career.
“My hope is to learn Swahili in order to understand more of the language and culture for prospects of returning to Tanzania to serve in the Peace Corps,” she said. “As a Boren Scholar, I am able to combine my passion for deeper cultural understanding and take a step toward my career goal of working for the Peace Corps organization.”
Recipients of the Boren Scholarship are committed to public service, agreeing to work for a year in the federal government in an area of U.S. national security interest, such as with the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, or the United States Agency for International Development.
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