Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

History major wins US State Dept. scholarship

History major Christian Acuña ’14 demolishes flimsy board of mediocrity in South Korea

Congratulations to history major Christian Acuña ’14, who won a spot in the U.S. State Department’s prestigious Critical Language Scholarship program last summer, spending eight weeks studying Korean at Yonsei University Wonju Campus in South Korea.

Around 610 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students were selected to participate in the program. Each participant spends seven to ten weeks in the country whose language they are studying enrolled in intensive language courses and taking advantage of the culturally enriching experiences the CLS program offers. For Christian, such excursions included a Korean archery lesson, a traditional wedding ceremony with tea tasting, and a Taekwondo lesson. Scholarships are offered in thirteen languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu.

Christian went into the program never having spoken a word of Korean and considers the program to be an effective and comprehensive way to learn a language without prior experience. For him, the most rewarding part of the experience was the weekly volunteer work at a local orphanage. He was grateful for this opportunity because it gave him a chance to give back to a community that was welcoming to him. For the first week of the program, he stayed with a Korean host family and in the weeks following continued to visit them on weekends for dinner.

Christian says he’s grateful to the program for the challenge and the opportunity to immerse himself in Korean language and culture and would love to assist Reedies who are interested in applying. He’s setting his sights on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea after he graduates from Reed.