Mazen Shomali, '11, and Jonathan Berman, '13, awarded scholarships to study in China, Dubai

BALTIMORE, MD (05/09/2011)(readMedia)-- Loyola University Maryland students Mazen Shomali, '11, and Jonathan Berman, '13, have each won a prestigious scholarship for specialized studies abroad this summer. Shomali was awarded a Critical Languages Scholarship that will send him to Shanghai, China, while Berman received a William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship to study in Dubai in the United Arad Emirates.

The Critical Language Scholarship provides a summer session of intensive, group-based language and cultural instruction for U.S. undergraduate, master's, and Ph.D. students by targeting 13 'critical need' foreign languages, including Chinese. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Each semester, the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship gives up to 10 U.S. undergraduate students the opportunity to study at the American University in Dubai (AUD). The scholarship was established through a partnership between AUD and the William J. Clinton Foundation in an effort to expand scholars' educational and cultural horizons on a campus where more than 80 nationalities are represented.

Shomali, a Baltimore native and international business major, will graduate on May 21, just a few weeks before he leaves for two months of intense Chinese language training at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. But this trip won't be Shomali's first to China; he developed a passion for learning Chinese while studying abroad in Beijing in fall 2009. He took Chinese classes in each of his next three semesters, preparing him to make a "language promise" to speak only Chinese while in China this summer. Shomali's next step will be real-world work experience or an international relations graduate program, but ultimately he wants to work for the U.S. Department of State and help build and bolster U.S. relations with China.

"I really see that learning the language is such a key element to understanding another person's culture, and it's the first step in building a friendship," said Shomali. He's already learned conversational Arabic from his parents, who were born in Jordan, and he's proficient in Spanish thanks to years of classes in high school and college.

Berman, a 19-year-old sophomore and ROTC cadet, is pursuing a double major in political science and history and spent the 2011 spring semester at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen. He studied politics in Istanbul, Turkey for a week as part of his DIS course load, but that's the only time he's been to the Middle East. Berman is confident his upcoming classes and immersion in Dubai will help him develop a unique and marketable understanding of the region, which he says will prove invaluable as he works toward his goal of assuming a leadership role in the military or the private sector.

"It's such a unique experience to actually live in the Middle East and study there," said Berman, who traveled directly to Dubai from Denmark on May 5 to start his summer session.

Berman wants to focus on either the Judge Advocate General or Military Intelligence path for his military commitment after Loyola.

Shomali is waiting to hear if he won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English to students in Macau, China for a year, which would also afford him the opportunity to further develop his Chinese skills.