Are you interested in studying Russian abroad, but the expenses of doing so make it seem out of reach? If you’re an American student, you’re in luck—there’s a program out there that can help you! Managed by the Institute of International Education, the State Department offers grants to US students to fund language training during study abroad through the Boren Awards.
Hi! My name is Megan and I’m a student at Indiana University (USA). I was one of the few lucky students who was able to form a successful application and receive a Boren award to fund my study of the Russian language at the Russian Language Academy BORN (RLA). Let me share my personal experience and give you some tips about the Boren Award.
Why Russian Language Academy in Riga?
Although my university has one of the best, well-resourced language programs in the United States, I knew I needed additional training to reach my language goals. It is very difficult to reach a high level of fluency, especially with speaking, when you only have university classes for three hours a week. In order to reach my goals, I needed a program that was much more intensive. RLA offers an ideal environment for language progression. Their small class sizes and communicative approach ensures that you actively engage in dialogues and constantly introduced to new words and scenarios. Being located in Riga is also a benefit, as you are able to continue using Russian while outside of classes.
Insight into Boren award backstage
Boren award will help you to meet your language goals through classes at RLA. The Boren award offers generous amounts for American students to study abroad, providing up to $20,000 for undergraduate students. For graduate students, that amounts to up to $24,000. The award is extremely competitive, with only a few hundred grants being given to students each year. Therefore it is essential you craft a strong application that emphasizes the values of the Boren program. You will need to propose a study plan, compile a budget, write two short essays. In addition, you need to receive three letters of recommendation.
A couple of tips for your essay
The essays, broadly speaking, cover two topics:
- Why the country in your proposed program of study is important for US national security (plus your own specific career interests).
- And the educational goals you hope to meet through your proposed plan of study.
Take a note
Most importantly, Boren awards are only given to students who have a strong commitment to public service. Your future career plans in public service have to be specific. Firstly, your essays must contain a clear argument for why language training is connected to them.
Secondly, make a clear argument for why Russian language study at your chosen institution (in this case, RLA in Latvia) makes sense for you on the basis of your personal academic and career interests.
More benefits for ROTC students
For instance, if you’re an ROTC student who will be serving as a military officer in the future, you might think about emphasizing the strategic importance of Latvia in NATO. Certainly, it would be wise to consult with the scholarships and grants coordinator at your home university. They will give you feedback on your application and ensure it reflects the values that the Institute of International Education desires.
Meeting Boren Award Deadline
The deadline to submit an application for the 2019 competition is January 30th for graduate students and February 7th for undergraduate students. The 2020 cycle, as well as all following cycles, will likely have similar deadlines.: the end of January for graduate students, and the first week of February for undergrads. You should start working on your application at least a month in advance. Therefore this will ensure you and your letter of recommendation writers have enough time to complete all the required materials. Usually, students find out about the status of their funding in April or May. Certainly, you can consult the information on https://www.borenawards.org for further guidance on eligibility and award requirements.
Don’t miss out on your chance to study abroad and achieve your educational goals!