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Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Blackey and William Dossett

This summer, rising College sophomore Daniel Blackey and 2016 College graduate William Dossett will each embark on a unique study abroad experience through the Critical Language Scholarship program.

After two days of orientation in Washington, D.C., Dossett will travel to Tangier, Morocco and Blackey to Xi’an, China. Through this intensive program, both CLS award winners will put their language skills to the test.

Blackey, an intended linguistics major, has studied Chinese since high school. He has previous study abroad experience through the Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota in Shanghai. Through this program, he spent four weeks intensively studying the language and culture and two weeks living with a host family.

Through his previous study abroad experience, Blackey described that the host family experience allowed him to utilize his language skills.

“It was really cool to see how much I had learned right away, because from the moment I walked into my host family’s house I had to speak in Chinese the whole time,” Blackey said.

Dossett, an international relations major, studied French, Italian, Spanish and Arabic during his four years at Penn. He began studying Arabic in his junior year and studied Arabic abroad.

Dossett’s background in foreign language began at a very early age after his family moved to Europe. Exposed to several languages that sparked his interest, international relations was a natural fit for him.

The Critical Language Scholarship program is a government program that identifies languages of need and sponsors students to study these languages in foreign countries. A highly selective program, its scholars spend 8-10 weeks immersed in their host family’s language and culture.

During his upcoming trip, Dossett hopes to work on his Arabic and improve his language skills. He also added that “being able to speak Arabic and understand the culture is essential to trying to build American engagement on a security level and on a diplomatic level.”

This summer, he hopes to gain a greater perspective on the Middle East, after his previous study abroad experience in Jordan. He hopes to travel and visit sites such as Rabat and Casablanca.

Blackey, meanwhile, looks forward to spending the summer in Xi’an, as it is a more traditionally Chinese city with less of a Western influence. Studying linguistics and computer science, he wants his future work to connect back to China and perhaps hopes to live there as well.

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