“I owe my language ability primarily to the Boren Scholarship and my time living abroad in China. Without that experience, I would not be able to continue to speak and understand Chinese at my current level. I am very pleased to say that the Boren Scholarship experience really does continue to serve me on a daily basis in my current job. I feel very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to study abroad, and I urge other college students to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.” -Alexander Furlong
Alexander Furlong, a 2004 Boren Scholar, spent the Fall of 2004 in Beijing, China. Alexander majored in Asia area studies with a minor in Chinese language at Ohio University where he was also a ROTC cadet. During the semester that he was in China, Alexander improved his Mandarin skills from intermediate low to advanced low on the oral proficiency interviews.
While in China, Alexander’s primary focus was reading, writing, and speaking Mandarin Chinese. He studied Mandarin intensively with other foreign students at Beijing University, and no English was used in the classroom, which challenged Alexander to improve his speaking and listening skills. To augment his language coursework, he took two classes given in English, but taught by Chinese instructors on U.S.-China relations and East Asian security. These were quite fascinating to participate in and, as part of one of his classes, Alexander participated in a speech contest where he spoke in Mandarin about U.S.-China relations. In reference to the contest, he said, "During my first week in Beijing, I never would have imagined that such a speech would have been possible, so this is another indication of the progress that I made linguistically in Beijing.”
Alexander graduated from Ohio University in 2005 and commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant on active-duty with the U.S. Army, where he remains today. He is currently attending the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course, where a large portion of his training is focused on language. Alexander is proud to serve in a position where he feels he is able to affect positive change. He encourages others to pursue opportunities that allow them to serve our nation in their own capacity.
Written: December 2009