Annie Church ’25 Awarded Critical Language Scholarship

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Jun 27 2024

NYU Shanghai student Annie Church ’25 is spending her summer studying Russian as a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship. An initiative of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program is aimed at expanding the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

The scholarship is designed to leverage best practices in online language learning developed during the pandemic. Participants spend the summer learning either Arabic, Chinese, or Russian through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a host institution abroad. 

annie church and ras
Church with her 2022-2023 Resident Assistant cohort

The scholarship funds Church’s foundational studies in Russian to connect her with the Russian-speaking world and build experience in citizen diplomacy. She will be taught by Moldovan faculty, learn about Moldovan culture, and participate in international exchange. 

“As a student of cultural anthropology, I am interested in languages and national identity,” said Church. “This program provides an entry-level application of American foreign diplomacy.”

Church said that her Russian-speaking friends at NYU Shanghai motivated and inspired her to learn the language.  “I hope to broaden my connections with Russian speakers in both my personal and academic life to experience international and multilingual communication,” she said. “This type of cross-cultural learning and cooperation will be applicable to any international position I will hold in the future.”

Annie Church on CEL trip
Church on an CEL Ethnography trip focused on  fostering connections through communication and language

Church says she enjoys language learning. In 2022, she participated in NYU Shanghai’s Summer Chinese Language Immersion Program in 2022. Her instructor Yuan Jie said she was an exceptionally dedicated language student during the program.  "She was an active and engaged student both in the classroom and during extracurricular activities, constantly pushing herself outside of her comfort zone,” she said. “What truly stood out to me, however, was Annie's reflective approach - she would thoughtfully analyze her progress, identify areas for improvement, and implement effective strategies to continually improve her Chinese proficiency."

Church said participating in the program has her interested in pursuing future studies with international exchange and diplomacy and applying for other programs through the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, such as The Fulbright Program and International Visitor Leadership Program. 

Clinical Associate Professor of English for Academic Purposes and Office of Global Awards advisor Steve Iams congratulated Church on her scholarship. “This opportunity recognizes her talent and affirms the University’s commitment to multilingualism and cross-cultural understanding,” he said.