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Patrick Schmidt to study Arabic in Morocco

 Congratulations to Patrick Schmidt ’12, who has been awarded one of forty scholarships by the U.S. State Department to study Arabic in Morocco this summer. Each year, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Program provides 600 merit-based scholarships to U.S. high school students interested in learning critically important languages including Arabic.

The NSLI-Y program assigns students to a total-immersion language-learning experience in which students live with a host family for six weeks, receive 100 hours of language instruction, and have linguistics and cultural opportunities to gain insight into the culture and traditions of the host country.

Patrick is an avid student of languages. He began studying Spanish in kindergarten at Academy Hill School. He has continued his study of Spanish though the AP level this year. In addition, Patrick started Mandarin Chinese upon arrival at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in ninth grade. He is completing Honors Mandarin III this year. He looks forward to a senior year while furthering his mastery Mandarin Chinese and colloquial Spanish.

In the summer of 2010, Patrick travelled to Jordan with the Columbia University High School Summer Program Culture and History: Understanding the Arab World. The program lasted a month with two weeks in Madaba, Jordan at King’s Academy. While in Jordan he met Dean of Residential Life, Tiffany Norman, who was then a member of the King’s Academy administration. In the fall, when Patrick returned to Wilbraham & Monson, he began studying Arabic with staff member Mr. Hasan Alrefae.

Patrick’s response to the news is typical of his selflessness of spirit, “My selection as a NSLI-Y scholar is more than a personal accomplishment. It is a testimony to the excellence of my language instructors and tutor. Mr. [Matthew] Stewart has pushed me to improve my Spanish over the past three years. After years of work, I can pick up any Spanish newspaper or turn on the news in Spanish and be able to determine what the news is for that day. Dr. [Frederick] Gao taught me Chinese from the ground up and continues to encourage me to improve my tones and character writing. Without the instruction I received from Dr. Gao in Mandarin Chinese, I would not have had the confidence to start learning another non-Western language. Mr. Alrefae has had the patience to start from the basics of Arabic and work to the point now where we are conjugating verbs and improving [my] spoken skills. Mr. Alrefae's tutoring will be the key for me to prepare for my upcoming trip as I will be immediately surrounded by Arabic once I arrive in Morocco. I cannot thank my language teachers enough for what I have learned from all of them.”

As a Bicentennial Scholar, Patrick has taken advantage of opportunities open to the scholars. The Bicentennial Scholar program has enriched Patrick’s appreciation of the world as a Global Village.

Note: Information about NSLI-Y was found on the U.S. Department of State website, http://exchanges.state.gov/youth/programs/nsli.html.          



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