My Boren year proved to be a great experience which has furthered my language proficiency in Mandarin. Prior to embarking on the Fellowship I had studied Mandarin for several years and wanted to continue my studies abroad. I discovered the Boren Fellowship while researching language programs, and it proved to be a perfect match for my major in international security, which focused on two locations: China and Taiwan. While both countries speak Mandarin, I chose Taiwan because of my previous experience there, and because the location would further my master’s thesis research on U.S.-Taiwan relations.
Even though I had previously taught English in Taiwan for two and a half years, my experience as a student served to further increase my level of fluency in Mandarin and gave me a deeper cultural understanding. My language studies consisted of twenty hours a week in an intensive Chinese language program at National Taiwan University in Taipei. The class size was small, with four or less students. The program also required more than four hours of homework each night. In addition, I had private lessons every day. The coursework and style of learning were challenging; however, my studies provided the confidence to speak Mandarin on a wide range of topics. I was able to communicate with native speakers for my research on the Taiwan Relations Act. While I had guidance from both my local and home professors, I had the rewarding experience to design and conduct the survey almost entirely on my own.
When my studies at the University of Denver are complete, I plan to search for permanent employment as an analyst with an agency that will allow me to utilize both my language skills and area knowledge to promote national security. As an analyst, I may be completing activities such as reading and translating original materials, analyzing the importance of these materials to national security, or preparing oral and/or written assessments of the current environment.
If you are planning to conduct research as a Boren Fellow, be clear and concise in your application. The proposal should be written so that anyone could conduct the same project and obtain similar results. By creating a clear proposal, you will be ready to conduct your project as soon as you arrive in your country of choice.
Written: November 2012