Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), Izmir, Turkey
Brandon Thomas, a master's student in International Relations, received a Critical Language Scholarship in 2011 for intermediate studies in Turkish.
In 2012, Brandon was awarded a Boren Fellowship to conduct media analysis in Turkey and advanced study of Turkish.
FELLOWSHIP I WON AND WHEN:
Critical Language Scholarship, for study of intermediate Turkish in Izmir, Turkey.
MY MAJOR/MINOR AND AREA (S) OF ACADEMIC/PROFESSIONAL INTEREST:
As part of my MA in International Relations, I have researched extensively in international law, U.S. security policy, and the role of media in formulating public opinion and foreign policy.
THE SUBSTANCE OF MY FELLOWSHIP PROPOSAL:
I defined the relevance of Turkey to U.S. security policy, explained my interest and background in the region, developed a link between my current academic pursuits and my professional interest in joining the U.S. diplomatic corps, and highlighted my linguistic experience both broadly and in the target language.
LOW POINT IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS:
When the results came in by email and my internet connection timed out.
HIGH POINT IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS:
When the connection reset!
MISADVENTURE DURING THE FELLOWSHIP:
I got locked out of my home stay one night…
BEST MOMENT DURING THE FELLOWSHIP:
Drinking tea next to the Aegean Sea, watching the ferry boats come and go, and chatting with new Turkish friends.
ADVICE TO APPLICANTS:
While applying, write multiple drafts of your essays. Highlight the sentences that emphasize how you are the candidate they're looking for. Cut out the sentences that are superfluous. Over 5,300 people applied last year, so the more precise and less "fluffy" your essay, the better. After getting accepted and arriving in country, maximize your exposure to the target language by spending as much time with native speakers.
WHY I'D DO IT AGAIN:
I absolutely love learning languages.
WHAT I'M DOING NOW:
I'm currently an Alumni Ambassador for the CLS scholarship, so I am helping promote the program at SF State and other Cal State campuses. I'm also the editor in chief of the Conflict Images Journal and President of the International Relations Council at SF State.