Twenty-nine additional students will head to East Asia in the coming year, as funding from the Maurice R. Greenberg Yale-China Initiative combines with that of the Light Foundation to support intensive language study there.
In a letter to Richard U. Light Fellowship applicants last week, officials announced that additional funding had been secured to enable students on the waitlist to receive the fellowships, which finance summer or term-time study in East Asia. The funding comes from the Greenberg Initiative, a program started in September with a $50 million donation to foster Yale’s collaboration with China. The initiative includes support for study abroad for Yale students, who will be designated Greenberg Scholars. The addition of the Greenberg funding to the Light Foundation funds will increase the number of students receiving full fellowships for language study in East Asia from a previously projected 90 to 119. Greenberg Scholarships may only be used for study in China.
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International Education and Fellowship Programs Director Barbara Rowe said University President Richard Levin decided to allocate Greenberg Initiative funds for Light Fellowship applicants upon reading in the News that fewer students would benefit this year. In January, Light Fellowship Director Kelly McLaughlin said 60 percent of applicants would be accepted this year, down from 75 percent last year. Applications to the Light Fellowship have increased steadily since the program’s inception, rising from 12 in 1996 to 151 this year.
Rowe said Yale students’ increasing desire for East Asian travel and study experiences has prompted the administration to lend these initiatives more support.
“We’re delighted that the president was able to identify funding to enable more students to study language in East Asia,” she said. “Particularly as the level of interest is rising, to keep pace with that is really wonderful.”
Of the 115 spring semester winners, 75 undergraduates, four graduating seniors and three graduate students are Light Fellows, while 33 are Greenberg scholars. Four additional students were awarded fellowships in the fall semester competition. The Greenberg designation does not imply that students were originally on the waitlist for the Light, IEFP administrators said.
Students who accept Light Fellowships to study in China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan usually spend eight weeks there during the summer, although they may also apply funding to an additional semester or academic year abroad. The typical award for the summer is $7,000, or $15,000 for a semester. Yale offers no comparable fellowship for language study in any other region.
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said support for study abroad, including the Light Fellowship, is a top concern for Yale College.
“Encouraging every Yale College student to seek an international opportunity during their years at Yale is of the highest priority for enhancing undergraduate education at Yale,” he said in an e-mail. “Language study in East Asia … is an excellent way to improve one’s skills and have a genuine international experience in a part of the world of great interest to many.”
Gabriel Monteros ’09, who was awarded a Greenberg Scholarship, is hoping to use his grant to study Chinese with the Princeton in Beijing program this summer. Monteros said he is not overly worried about the strenuous language study, which aims to teach the equivalent of a year of instruction in eight weeks.
“I believe the only way you can become truly fluent in a language is to go and be immersed in the language and the country where it’s used,” he said. “Understanding a language is not just about knowing vocabulary, it’s about understanding the cultural context.”
Winners must notify IEFP before March 5 as to whether or not they will accept the award, contingent on their acceptance to a program. The fellowship covers transportation, tuition, room and board, and miscellaneous expenditures.