KINGSTON, R.I. — June 17, 2021 — Shawn Fennell, a first-year Worldwide Relations graduate scholar from the College of Rhode Island, has been awarded a U.S. Division of State Crucial Language Scholarship to check Arabic this summer season.
Born in Hialeah, Florida, Fennell was raised with a blended Cuban and Irish heritage and attributes rising up in a bilingual family to growing an affinity in direction of totally different languages and cultures. However even after graduating with a bachelor’s diploma in comparative literature from Princeton College, Fennell wasn’t fairly certain which profession path he ought to deal with.
“I didn’t fairly know what I used to be getting educated for and ended up leaving Princeton with one course poor,” Fennell mentioned. “On the proper time, a pal of mine was opening a non-profit arts group in Rhode Island and requested me to assist. That’s how I got here right here. I finally took my final course at URI and completed my diploma. URI helped me end what I began.”
Fennell spent the subsequent two years travelling throughout Portugal and Morocco, the place he ultimately discovered his ardour for Arabic.
“My bus arrived in Fez at 2 within the morning and my hostel was closed, every little thing was shut down, and I had nowhere else to go,” mentioned Fennell. “My cabby instantly provided to let me keep at his place for the night time. Regardless that, looking back, it appears reckless to have accepted his provide, I shortly realized that he was a not too long ago divorced single father, struggling to make ends meet along with his son, who willingly helped me at a time of want. That supply was very a lot an Arab factor and it piqued my curiosity to know extra about that tradition.”
Fennell recollects at all times having a facility with communication and politics, and deeply cares about cultivating peace on the planet. This curiosity in languages and politics ultimately introduced him to the Division of Political Science at URI to pursue a grasp’s diploma in Worldwide Relations whereas additionally taking Arabic lessons.
“I talked to graduate program director Kristin Johnson about eager to study Arabic as effectively, earlier than I utilized,” mentioned Fennell. “The division additionally needed to start piloting a program the place college students within the Worldwide Relations program may take Arabic language lessons, so all of it got here collectively on the proper time.”
The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive abroad language and cultural immersion program for American college students enrolled at U.S. schools and universities. College students usually spend eight to 10 weeks overseas learning one in every of 14 important languages. This system consists of intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to advertise fast language positive factors, and has a ten p.c acceptance fee.
Nevertheless, due to the pandemic, Fennell, who was initially chosen for the CLS program based mostly in Oman, will probably be taking lessons remotely this summer season. He nonetheless hopes to benefit from the expertise.
“It’s not going to be the identical now that it’s digital,” mentioned Fennell, who lives in Windfall. “Nevertheless, my entire first yr of my grasp’s program was completely digital and I used to be nonetheless in a position to get a powerful sense of self-discipline and a dive into new studying supplies. Furthermore, I’m solely accustomed to colloquial Arabic whereas the one this program focuses on is Fusha Arabic, which is the classical literary type. So despite the fact that I could not have a powerful sense of place and neighborhood, it is going to nonetheless be an thrilling probability to shore up my shortcomings inside the language.”
On the identical time, Fennell mentioned the CLS program will assist him prolong his grasp’s diploma analysis on how web entry and social media applied sciences alter political landscapes and interact people, specializing in social media actions within the Arabic language. He’s additionally excited by producing important analysis evaluation resembling devising a analysis design to study extra about home labor in locations like Lebanon, which is going through each a COVID-19 and monetary disaster.
“A number of home employees are migrant home employees who’re below this rigorous sponsorship or contract and have little or no social safety,” mentioned Fennell. “I’d hopefully like to really go to those locations, interview them, and relate to individuals in that tradition.”
Fennell is grateful to the college within the Division of Political Science and the URI neighborhood for serving to him get the scholarship and deal with his ardour.
“The neighborhood has given me the chance to interrupt limitations by means of language and opened up the area to probably do actual good, not simply by way of analysis work but additionally humanitarian work,” Fennell mentioned.
URI undergraduate and graduate college students who’re excited by making use of to the CLS program are inspired to contact the URI Workplace of Nationwide Fellowships and Tutorial Alternatives for steerage and institutional endorsement.
Edhaya Thennarasu, an intern within the Advertising and Communications Division at URI and Communications main, wrote this press launch.