Benjamin Barkley, a Boston College Law School student from Missouri City, has been awarded a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship for Russian language study at the Kazan Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities in Russia this summer.
Barkley is a 2007 graduate of Hightower High School in Missouri City and a 2011 graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio.
More than 4,900 undergraduate and graduate students across the nation applied for the 2013 Critical Language Scholarships (CLS), which provide fully-funded, intensive programs for overseas language study.
Barkley is one of approximately 600 winners, representing more than 200 institutions of higher education. The CLS recipients will spend the summer in structured cultural enrichment experiences mastering one of 13 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.
For Barkley, the trip to Kazan will be a bit of a homecoming. As a young child, he lived in Kazan for a year with his parents who worked for a NGO. He attended kindergarten in Kazan, where he first learned to speak Russian. His family then spent another four or so years in Ufa, Russia.
“I plan on using this opportunity to practice my Russian and become further acquainted with Russian culture. In my spare time I plan to seek out opportunities to work with local businesses or volunteer organizations to get to know the community better. I also hope to reconnect with the woman who practically adopted my family and became my Russian ‘grandmother’ while we were living there,” said Barkley, who wants to pursue a career with the State Department as a foreign service officer.