Eastern Michigan University student wins scholarship to study Urdu in India

by Debra Johnson, Published May 08, 2013

Ugbaad Keynan


YPSILANTI - Ugbaad Keynan, a sophomore at Eastern Michigan University and an international affairs major has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Urdu in Lucknow, India this summer.

Keynan, 18, from Detroit, is one of approximately 610 undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State's CLS Program in 2013.  Scholarship recipients were selected from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the U.S. 

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

"I chose Urdu because I'm interested in the region academically," said Keynan. "I'm very interested in the political history between Pakistan and India and their unique situation at the moment as two nuclear weapon yielding powers that haven't signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Urdu, or more precisely Modern Standard Urdu, is a language that is associated with the Muslim religion. It is the national language of Pakistan, and is a language adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different. It is the official language of five Indian states and one of the 22 scheduled languages in the Constitution of India.

Keynan will arrive in Lucknow in June and spend the next eight weeks studying the Urdu language while living with a host family. The goals of the CLS Urdu Program are language acquisition and cultural immersion. Language classes cover the concepts of grammar, conversation, pronunciation, journal writing, and dictation that hone the four skills of language development - listening, speaking, reading and writing.

In addition to formal evaluations such as tests and quizzes, CLS Program participants will attend student-teacher meetings, complete homework assignments, and will participate in tutoring, cultural activities, and language partner activities.

Weekly activities to supplement the formal classroom instruction include local trips, guest lectures, and music and dance performances. Students are also required to complete an independent project that will be presented during the final week of the program.

"I am looking forward to meeting the other program recipients," said Keynan. "Many of them are graduate or Ph.D. students who are very accomplished in their respective fields."

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes in thirteen critical foreign languages and is a program of the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The foreign languages that are part of the CLS Program are: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.

"After I graduate from Eastern, I'd like to either go to graduate school or join the Peace Corps," said Keynan. "Ultimately, I'd really like to work for the United Nations or the Foreign Service one day." 

Visit the Critical Language Scholarship Program homepage for more information.



Debra Johnson

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