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Boren Scholarship helps Voas study Arabic abroad

After Erinn Voas finished four Arabic language courses at Cornell College, she was hooked on the language and started thinking about something ambitious—maybe spending an entire year studying abroad in Arabic. Thanks in part to a $20,000 Boren Scholarship, she is now halfway through a year in Amman, Jordan, where she’s taking all her coursework in Arabic at the University of Jordan.

Erinn Voas

Erinn Voas, a Cornell junior, is spending the year in Jordan thanks in part to a Boren Scholarship.

The Boren Scholarship is designed to promote studying abroad in countries where the United States has a critical interest, and recipients agree to pursue a governmental position related to national security within three years of graduation. Voas, a junior who’s double majoring in history and international relations, hopes to eventually find work with the U.S. State Department.

“The hard part is getting hired,” she said. “Other Boren alumni told me the scholarship program is a big benefit.”

In Jordan, she is one of a few hundred American students studying at the country’s universities. She’s convinced that Jordan is the best place she could be to study Arabic and Arabic culture right now. In addition to its central location—it’s bordered by Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq—the people have been uniformly welcoming to her, and understanding that she’s still learning the language.

Her skill with Arabic has increased immensely after a semester in Jordan, but, she said, there’s still more to learn. During the second semester she’s looking forward to a 10-hour per week internship, which will give her opportunities to hone her language proficiency in a work setting while exploring potential career roles.

“At the end of the semester, it hit me that my work isn’t done yet,” she said. “I’m so thankful I can go back.”