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Grand Valley student selected for Critical Language Scholarship

Posted on March 19, 2014

Grand Valley student and Grand Rapids native David Leestma has been selected to participate in the nationally competitive 2014 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program for intensive summer language study. An international relations major with Arabic and Middle East studies minors, Leestma will further hone his Arabic language skills while abroad. 

The CLS Program is part of a larger U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu.

Program costs, including airfare, tuition, room and board, cultural program expenses, overseas health benefits, and applicable visa fees, are fully covered for all participants. Participants receive a small stipend to cover incidental expenses and meals not provided by the program. The CLS Program provides undergraduate academic credit through Bryn Mawr College. Upon completion of the program, participants also receive a certified American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) score.

GVSU students interested in applying for such nationally competitive scholarship opportunities as the Critical Language Scholarship are encouraged to contact Amanda Cuevas, Director of the Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships, 230 Mary Idema Pew Library, (616) 331-2699, or The next CLS application will open in the fall with a mid-November 2014 deadline.

GVSU alumni Theodore Trotman (Russia, 2008); Sandra Braden (Oman, 2011); and Aubrey McMahan (Oman, 2013) are past recipients of the CLS. 

For more information on other exchange opportunities offered by the U.S. Department of State, including the Fulbright and Gilman Programs, please visit Full details about the CLS are available at 

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