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Student gets unique study abroad opportunity in India

Ever wanted to learn a foreign language in another country? A student from our university is getting this chance.

Senior history and sociology major Gary Weidemann is going to study Punjabi in India thanks to a scholarship he received from the Critical Language Scholarship Program by applying through their website. His scholarship is funded by the Department of State and Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs rather than the study abroad office. Weidemann said he got selected in Missouri by the state department to go.

“I wasn’t in an Ivy League school or living on the East Coast; maybe if other students see that it is not impossible to go, they will be encouraged or inspired to apply for it,” Weidemann said.

Weidemann said he was surprised he got the scholarship. He applied previously for Turkey and didn’t get it prior to picking India when he applied again this year.

Weidemann chose India because he wants to try and learn a new language. Of the 13 different locations, he was limited to the places for beginners. It also did not hurt that he is really interested in that region. He even took two classes on a religion of the region, Sikhism.

“Punjabi straddles the Pakistan border,” Weidemann said. “A lot of interesting things have been happening there for the past twenty years.”

Weidermann also hopes other students received the same opportunity that he did.

“Hopefully I’m not the only Missouri Western student who gets this,” Weidemann said. “It’s a great opportunity, a whole summer but, basically paid for: Not a lot of opportunities like that out there.”

Weidemann said expenses are fully funded: which covers classes, books, travel expenses and airfare.

“Really cool thing they provide housing and food,” Weidemann said.

While in India he will be staying with a host family in the city of Chandigarh. He will be there during India’s monsoon season.

Weidemann said this is not his first time out of the country, but it is the first chance he has to study abroad. Weidemann said he was inspired by Dr. Phil Mullins, professor of philosophy.

“He told me to be an educated person, you should learn another language,” Weidemann said.

Junior Anna Steely, one of Weidemann’s former residents when he was a resident assistant, said that she was very proud of Weidemann’s fantastic opportunity.

“He was a great RA when I had him, and I’m very excited for him,” Steely said. “He has this amazing chance to go to India and learn Punjabi.”

Assistant professor of political science Edwin Taylor stated that the opportunity to study abroad is something very beneficial and encourages all students to follow in Weidemann’s footsteps.

“Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity, one that every student should try to figure out how to include in their academic experience,” Taylor said. “I think most people think ‘Oh I can never afford to do it; it’s too expensive,’ and they short change themselves from a wonderful opportunity, to just go experience something completely different and be out of their comfort zone for a while.”

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