NSLI-Y: The Journey Begins

Last fall, I applied for a scholarship to study Arabic from the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). NSLI-Y is an organization funded by the U.S. Department of State, which sends high school students abroad on fully covered federal scholarships to study critical languages.

The application and selection process took about six months but yesterday, on March 10, 2017, at exactly 3:51 PM, I received my letter of acceptance for the NSLI-Y Arabic Summer program in Amman, Jordan. When I checked my email, I was waiting with my friends for my mom to pick me up from school. According to what I had heard, Arabic notifications weren’t even supposed to come out till the 20th, so NSLI-Y wasn’t even on my mind at the time. (Well actually, it always was, but I wasn’t actively obsessing.) While absent-mindedly checking my email, I saw a new email from NSLI-Y. My hands were shaking as I clicked to open it. To my surprise, it didn’t say anything; it just told me to “see attached PDF regarding your application status”. I was so nervous as I waited for the PDF to load. Finally, I saw the words I had been dreaming about for nearly a year: “We are pleased to inform you… “. When I saw that I had made it, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even make an effort to stop the screams of excitement.

So, that’s the beginning of the story. While my trip to Jordan only officially starts in the middle of the summer, the journey is certainly under way. Yesterday, I filled out my agreement form, sent in an image of my passport, and completed more medical information. In addition, my mom and I stayed up till 12:30 reading the participant guidebook, which gave detailed information about my program and what to expect, as well as a lot of advice about Jordanian culture. It was a really long document, but I was so excited and curious. Now, I look forward to receiving my Arabic textbook, Alif Baa, and completing my pre-program learning, so that I can be prepared for an amazing study abroad experience. For the next few months, I will be writing a lot more about NSLI-Y, giving some insight about the application process, and charting my journey as it develops.

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