Freshman Lucia Rathke received a scholarship to study Russian in Moldova this summer, where she will participate in an immersion program and live with a host family. National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, provides merit-based scholarships for high school students and recent high school graduates to study less commonly taught languages overseas.
“I was mostly surprised,” said Lucia of her award. “I never thought I’d get it … I am so excited and impatient for the school year to end to prepare for the program.”
Lucia studied Russian through a program last summer and already has some grasp of the language. Russian is Lucia’s fifth language, including English; she has studied French, German, and Mandarin Chinese.
“I think when you learn a new language, it helps you learn English as well,” said Lucia. “Most people, when you speak a language, you don’t usually think about it. Learning a new language, it’s making sense of a huge puzzle; it’s intricate. You learn how other people think.”
Because of her parents’ careers in the Foreign Service, Lucia has picked up languages in a variety of countries. Having lived in Belgium for several years as a child, Lucia entered Visitation as a Honors French IV student this year. She recalls some Mandarin from her time in Malaysia, and speaks German with her mother, who is half-German.
As part of the program, Lucia will attend Russian language classes for four hours per day, while participating in cultural enhancement and community service throughout the week.