Madison Paul ’13 was inspired to learn Arabic in college because of her experiences as a ten-year-old living in Washington, D.C. after 9/11.
Many of her friends were North African, and it disturbed her to hear Islam associated with terrorism. She couldn’t understand why her playmates’ peaceful religion was the object of so much hatred and fear. Today, she wants to help improve relations between the Muslim world and the United States.
Paul has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship
to continue her Arabic education. She will spend two months in Morocco this summer living with a host family, receiving advanced instruction, participating in cultural activities and volunteering in the community.
Paul, a biochemistry and molecular biology major and political science minor, plans to use the Arabic she has learned to become a doctor in the Middle East, focusing on women’s health. She hopes to go to medical school through the Navy and join Doctors Without Borders
, an international medical humanitarian organization, after her military service.
The CLS Program provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences to American undergraduates and graduates interested in studying thirteen languages considered of critical importance to the United States, such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Korean. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.
The CLS Program is highly competitive, with approximately ten percent of applicants accepted. However, this isn’t the first time Paul has been selected—last summer she went to Jordan.
“It was an amazing experience,” Paul said. Ramadan, a month-long Muslim holiday celebrating the time when the Islamic holy texts were first revealed, occurred during part of her trip to Jordan. Though she is not Muslim, Paul participated as much as she could in the festivities, including refraining from eating and drinking during daylight hours. “The whole country celebrates. It’s a beautiful religion, a beautiful holiday. It helps you remember how privileged you are.”
She encourages other students, especially students from Agnes Scott, to apply for the scholarship. “If you’re passionate about learning the language, it’s a great opportunity.”
Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location – offering myriad cultural and experiential learning opportunities. A diverse and growing residential community of scholars, this highly selective liberal arts and sciences college is known for its dynamic and challenging intellectual community. Encouraging students to engage the wider world through study abroad and presenting its curriculum with international context, Agnes Scott College delivers on its promise: The World. For Women.