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Local Shippensburg University student earns state department scholarship to study in South Korea

1 May 2013 No Comment

Ethan Goldbach, pictured in the amphitheater at the Ceddia Union Building at Shippensburg University. (Courtesy/Shippensburg University)


A Shippensburg University senior and Greencastle native will study the Korean language this summer in South Korea under a highly competitive scholarship that aims to expand American use of widely unused languages.

Ethan Goldbach was one of about 610 undergraduate and graduate students nationwide to get the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship for 2013.

He will spend eight weeks this summer in intensive language studies in Wonju, South Korea. Citing state department information, an SU news release stated that Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish and Urdu are among the languages other students will study.

“They’re very weird languages that no one wants to take,” Goldbach said, generally speaking.

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of a U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages, according to the state department. Fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences are provided.

More than anything else, Goldbach is excited to be part of the program’s goal. He hopes his participation will grant him easier access to the federal government career he desires.

“My ideal work choice would be in Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, or the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs,” he said.

His goals put him in line with the program’s expectations that participants continue their language studies after the scholarship ends and apply those skills to a professional career.

Goldbach admitted he feels a bit intimidated, not by the pressure of the program, but rather by other students he will be with who come from more prestigious, “big name” colleges. He is still plenty confident though.

“I do think the ways that my professors have challenged me inside and outside of the classroom to be fully engaged with the material I’m learning will lend itself to this immersion-style language study,” he said.

“I hope to represent Shippensburg to the best of my ability.”

Despite the Korean political strife often reported in the media, Goldbach does not expect that to be on his mind. According to his Korean acquaintances, those reports are often sensationalized.

“I’m cautious but not letting those worries take over,” he said.

Goldbach got the scholarship on his second application. The time works out well, as he will continue his undergraduate studies in the fall and next spring by teaching English and taking classes at the University of Korea through an SU exchange program.

At SU, Goldbach is a history major with minors in anthropology, international studies and music. He is a member of the Honors Program. His term as president of the Student Senate just recently ended.

He also participated in various campus organizations including Act V Productions, Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers.

Finalists of this year’s scholarships were from every state, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., and represented more than 200 institutions of higher education around the country. The program recruits in states and regions of the U.S. that have been historically underrepresented in international exchange.

Participants are among the 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported every year by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.
Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com and 262-4771.

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