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Sarah Wallstrom, a student at Los Alamos High School, was recently awarded the National Security Language Institute for Youth (NSLI-Y) Scholarship for study of a strategic language.
The NSLI-Y program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly taught languages in overseas immersion programs. The State Department offers approximately 625 students per year the chance to study Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, or Turkish overseas, either for the academic year or the summer.
Wallstrom chose to study Russian. She has left already to spend six weeks in Moldova, a country landlocked between Ukraine and Romania, where the Russian language is fairly widespread. She will live with a host family, study the Russian language in the morning, and participate in cultural events in the afternoon.
Wallstrom grew interested in Russia after participating in the youth exchange trip sponsored by the Los Alamos — Sarov Sister City Initiative (LASSCI). In 2012 she traveled with nine other Los Alamos teens to the “secret city” of Sarov where the Russian atomic bomb was developed. In the summer of 2013, Wallstrom studied Russian language and culture at the Concordia Language Villages program in Minnesota.
Launched in 2006, NSLI-Y seeks to increase the number of Americans who can engage with native speakers of critical languages by providing formal instruction and informal language practice in an immersion environment.
The goal is to spark a lifelong interest in foreign languages and cultures, and develop a corps of young Americans with the skills necessary to advance international dialogue and cross-cultural opportunities in the private, academic, government, and nonprofit sectors.