Soph Sam Frantz Earns Scholarship to Study Mandarin in China

Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Sophomore Sam Frantz recently received a scholarship for a summer Mandarin program from the National Security Language Initiative for Youth.

“It’s a merit scholarship sponsored by the Department of State for language immersion in China,” said Frantz, who has been studying Mandarin since the 5th grade.

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth, or NSLI-Y, is a program that began in 2006 with the goal of promoting “critical language learning among American youth,” according to the program’s mission statement.

The partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the American Council for International Education immerses students in countries that speak Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian or Turkish.

“There was a very intense application process,” said Frantz, “which involved a 35-page written application, and then, following my acceptance into the semifinal round, a personal interview.”

The program is extremely competitive. According to Frantz, less than five percent of applicants are accepted. The language program lasts for seven weeks, and is totally immersive.

According to the NSIL-Y website, the program aims to increase the student’s confidence interacting and communicating in Mandarin.

“The program increases students’ Chinese language proficiency through intensive in-class language instruction, cultural presentations and activities, and host family stays,” explained the official NSLI-Y website. “Volunteer service activities with community-focused organizations and cultural activities such as cooking, Chinese arts and crafts, and martial arts classes complement classroom learning and provide students with diverse opportunities to practice their language skills.”

Frantz was inspired to apply for NSLI-Y once he took a two-week long trip to China with Mrs. Zhang. Afterwards, Frantz decided he “was interested in pursuing a more immersive experience, and this program seemed like a good fit.”

“I’m most excited about being able to completely surround myself in a culture and an environment in which I’m able to get a true feel for the people and the language of a country on the other side of the world for seven weeks,” said Frantz.

He is thankful for the opportunity to continue his Mandarin studies at Notre Dame, as Frantz sees it as the “language of the future.”

“It’s the mother language of over 800 million people worldwide,” recognized Frantz. “And, because of this, I feel that it has given, and will give me lots of opportunities for the future.”