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Student Profile

Adding Language to Further Scholarship

Annie Samhouri, a native of Colorado, received a BA in political science, with minors in Middle Eastern studies/Arabic and international development, and is currently pursuing an MS in sociology from BYU. Samhouri studied Arabic for two years and put that knowledge to use with two internships with the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development. She also has three years of experience supervising the BYU Jordan international development internship with the Ministry of Social Development and Professor Ralph Brown (her thesis chair). As a recipient of both a Boren and a Fulbright award, Samhouri hopes to seek employment with USAID in the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment or with the United Nations.

Kelly Danforth expressed interest in “picking up a North African Arabic accent. Arabs make fun of my Egyptian every time I open my mouth, so its time they had something new to laugh at!” she said.

Winner of a Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic language study in to Morocco, Danforth is a Middle East studies and Arabic major. A native of Cody, Wyoming, she says her best preparatory experience for the award was a study abroad to Cairo, Egypt, during summer 2010. While in Egypt, “[My] Arabic improved, and I grew to love the people and culture,” she said, noting that Arab children were often her most willing conversation partners. Danforth’s plans include looking for any opportunity to improve her language skills and spend time in the Middle East.

Robert Bonn is from Las Vegas, Nevada, and majoring in Middle East studies and Arabic. Bonn prepared himself for the Gilman scholarship through an internship with the Kennedy Center where he helped work on development in the rural areas of Jordan. His international experience is also bolstered by his participation in the BYU Arabic study abroad program. Also receiving a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco, Bonn expressed his excitement for “the opportunity to spend two months in such a fascinating country at this critical time.” He called “communicating with the Moroccan people in their own language on a daily basis” the “experience of a lifetime.” His plans are focused in the area of diplomacy.

Celinda Teichert was born and raised in Cokeville, Wyoming, is currently in the pre-major for medical laboratory science, and has been studying Arabic for the past two years as part of the Middle East studies and Arabic minor. Teichert attributes her success to a strong work ethic that was carefully cultivated while growing up on a ranch. Her commitment paid off with a Gilman Scholarship she plans to use to complete an internship with the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development. Following her internship, Teichert will resume her studies at BYU and hopes to enter medical school following graduation.

From Duluth, GA, Kathleen or “Casey” Bahr is a Middle East studies and Arabic major with a minor in international development. Bahr has participated in various undergraduate research activities with Professor Daniel Peterson, including research on slavery during Muhammad’s time, physical and historical events throughout the Qur’an, and editing and adding to Peterson’s book Abraham Divided, which examines the Arab–Israeli conflict in relation to Latter-day Saint life. She is also involved in the Honors Program and is currently working on an honors thesis titled “Just War Theory Applied in Islam.” Some of her favorite undergraduate experiences include an internship with HELP international in Hyderabad, India, and her 403R Immigrant and Refugee Health class that exposed Bahr to a different aspect of development work and allowed her to work with refugees. The Gilman Scholarship will make a study abroad in Jordan possible. She plans to pursue an MA in Arabic studies and hopes to work for an NGO or USAID while residing in the Middle East.

James Juchau, from Bothell, Washington, is double majoring in economics and Arabic. Juchau has completed an international development internship in Jordan, where he taught English and researched development; a work stint with AidData on BYU campus; an internship with Development Gateway in Washington, D.C., where he worked with geocoding and research on international development; an internship with Vittana through the Ballard Center; as well an Arabic study abroad program in Jordan. He credits these internships for preparing him for winning the Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco. He is grateful for the chance to “learn a new dialect of Arabic, deepen [his] understanding of Modern Standard Arabic—and eat tons of couscous!” His plans include working in business consulting for a few years, an MBA, and ultimately participating in private sector investment and other operations in both the Middle East and Africa.

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year.

The Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a U.S. Government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Languages offered include Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.

The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students with limited financial means to assist them in studying abroad. The scholarship program supports international learning as an important aspect of education and will aid students in becoming more culturally aware world citizens. The program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.