Alumni News

Dywer '17 Studies Urdu as 2017 Critical Languages Scholar

Isaac Dwyer '17 spent eight weeks this summer studying the Urdu language in India as a recipient of the 2017 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship—a government initiative aimed at expanding the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

critical languages scholars

Dwyer joined 26 other American students in intensive Urdu courses at the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow, the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh, has long been a center of Indian Nawab culture, producing notable literature, poetry, dance and textiles.

Dwyer lived with a local Urdu-speaking host family and met regularly with local peers to learn more about the Urdu language and develop their personal networks. The group engaged in cultural excursions, lectures and other enrichment activities designed to support and enhance language learning and exposure to the host culture.

Urdu has over 65 million native speakers, largely in South Asia and South Asian diasporic communities. Urdu is mutually intelligible with Hindi, making it a geopolitically strategic language for students interested in international relations or security careers.

CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills in languages that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential for America’s engagement with the world, contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.