Sarah Alam, MA International Affairs '18, was awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Bangla in Kolkata, India this summer.

Sarah Alam, MA International Affairs ’18, Wins U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship

Sarah Alam, MA International Affairs ’18, was awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Bangla in Kolkata, India this summer.

Alam is one of approximately 550 competitively selected American students at U.S. colleges and universities who received a CLS award, part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

“CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security,” according to U.S. Department of State.

Prior to winning the CLS scholarship, Alam was awarded a coveted Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant, through which she taught English at a school in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

“My Fulbright experience was especially fulfilling because I was able to use my background as a Bangladeshi American to empower girls abroad,” Alam says. “I was also a cultural ambassador, a representative of America abroad.”

She previously studied Bangla at the Bangla Language Institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Although she advanced her language skills at the school, “I knew that I wanted to reach superior level in Bangla, which is why I applied for the CLS in Bangla.”

“As a graduate student of International Affairs,” she adds, “I understand the importance of proficiency in other languages. Despite it being my mother-tongue, I know the unique attributes that Bangla has, which is why I want it to be my second primary language throughout my international career.”