FLAS recipients reflect on their language learning experiences

Studying an African language at UW-Madison? Fund your language study through a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship (deadline: February 12).

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships are administered by the African Studies Program for graduate and undergraduates to study African languages. Funded by the United States Department of Education, FLAS fellowships are intended to develop a cadre of linguistically competent specialists in the study of Africa in a range of disciplines. FLAS fellowships cover tuition and provide a stipend for the academic year or summer.

Applications are due February 12, 2018. Still unsure whether or not FLAS is right for you? Hear from former recipients on why they applied for FLAS and how the award impacted their language study.

Lauren Parnell-Marino

Studied Luganda in Kampala, Uganda

Lauren studying with her Luganda teacher, Simon Mpanga, at the City Language Centre in Kampala, Uganda. (Submitted photo)

I applied for FLAS because I wanted to make language learning an essential part of my graduate education. Proficiency in Luganda will enable me to do my best possible research, and I wanted to do everything I could to work towards proficiency. I’ve made tremendous progress since I’ve started and have also deepened my knowledge of Ugandan culture alongside language learning. It’s helped me converse with Ugandan friends who have limited English skills and connected me with Luganda learners. ‘

FLAS has given me the time to prioritize my Luganda education meaningfully during the school year. It’s also allowed me to spend time in Uganda and experience intensive one-on-one instruction and has given me the chance to practice with dozens of friends and people on the street. It’s been a gift to me personally and professionally – and it could be the same for you!

Koffi Dogbevi

Studied Swahili at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Koffi Dogbevi. (Submitted photo)

I applied for the FLAS because the funding I was awarded as a research student (LLM/SJD) through the Law School was limited, and I have to cope with other jobs outside the university to afford the cost of living, room and board. An equally fundamental reason of my application for the FLAS fellowship was the subject of my research: “Accidental Crop Contamination, Patent Infringement and Food Sovereignty in Africa.” My decision to apply for the FLAS, and particularly the Swahili language, was motivated by my intent to do field work in a Southeastern African country (Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda) and engage with different small holder farmers on ethical, socio-economic and environmental aspects of my research.

Overall, the FLAS award brings me stability and a peace of mind to focus on my research. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to learn a foreign language – in my case the Swahili language – which is a great addition to my knowledge, my resume, and a large range of new opportunities linked to the knowledge of a new language.

Sam on a tour of the local livestock market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Submitted photo)

Sam Allen

Studied Swahili at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Most learning takes place outside of the classroom, and FLAS helped me get out there. My FLAS scholarship helped me conduct research in Tanzania this winter break, and I met with the NGOs, multilaterals and military I’ve only read about so far. I encourage you to take your academic career to the next level with FLAS, and to use the skills you gain from this scholarship for the betterment of your country that entrusts you with it.

Applications for summer and academic year fellowships are due February 12, 2018. To apply, visit flas.wisc.edu.