A Hardin Valley Academy junior will be living in Taiwan this summer thanks to a full scholarship through the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative (NSLI).
Samson Brown has been taking Chinese language courses at HVA since his freshman year. Now in AP Chinese, he hopes this immersive experience will strengthen his Mandarin.
“That is a very crucial part of language learning,” Brown said. “If you have the opportunity to experience an immersion experience like that, it’ll really improve your language skills.”
He will take four hours of language classes and one hour of culture class a day at the Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Gushan.
After class, he looks forward to eating the local food, as Asian cuisine has been a longtime favorite of Brown and his father.
While he will be living in on-campus housing during the week, he will stay with a host family during his time in Taiwan.
“I can’t wait to be part of a host family, and maybe have a little sibling from across the world,” he said.
Brown was encouraged by HVA Chinese teacher Dr. Frank Chen to apply. While he knew the competition would be fierce among the other applicants, he said he had help with the application from a friend and role model, HVA salutatorian and NSLI alumni Eli Johnson.
Brown initially became interested in learning languages because of his grandparent’s history of travel.
“They traveled almost everywhere, all over the world. I always was fascinated by it,” he said. “I might have seen learning a language as a gateway to traveling and exploring. If I want to continue pursuing this in my career, traveling is probably part of it.”
This experience will open many doors for Brown. If he enjoys this summer’s study-abroad trip, he might consider a full academic year in Taiwan through NSLI before enrolling in the military or a college. Following his education, he hopes to become a diplomat.
“Definitely going to be a lot of traveling in my future,” Brown said. “I’m not going to stay in one place.”
Brown’s piece of advice for other students: “Shoot your shot because I didn’t know I was going to get this scholarship, and what do you know? I got it.”