Boren 2012-2013

341 posts in this topic

Posted

Hey guys,

New to the forum, but have read through some of the posts.

I am going to be applying for the Boren Award this upcoming Febuary.

I have a problem I would like someones opinion on.

In terms of choosing country...

I have set my eyes on Egypt, Cairo and have found the university I would be applying to (AUC).

But recently though, I thought that it might be better to study abroad in my country of specialty.

Russia.

I am first generation Russian and speak fluent Russian. I have taken 2 years of formal language to bring my writing and reading up to speed.

Now my dilemma is that if I apply towards the Boren Award for Egypt with no prior knowledge of Arabic or the culture, I may not be that competitive. Russia would make more sense since I have travelled there before and understand the language and culture very well.

On the other hand, because I have such a good ground in Russia. It is time for me to move on to another region and gain language and culture experience in Egypt.

I am just trying to see what NSEP would rather have me do. Would it be more beneficial for me to continue my study in Russian culture or break out and study in Egypt?

And what would make me more competitive? Egypt or Russia?

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Posted

Hey Daniel,

The point of the Boren is specifically targeted at language- I think if you make the case to study Arabic, your background in Russian can only strengthen your application (because it shows you are good at learning languages). If you focus your application on how you need to move and experience another region that is exactly what they want to hear! I think you will be more competative for Egypt- but it's totally up to you- If there is some part of the Russian lanugage that you need to develop (like historic literature or something) or if your research involves interviewing people (where you would need to be fluent) then those are the only reasons I see the need for you to apply for Russia... Just my thoughts though!

-Boren alternate 2011-2012 (reapplying 2012-2013)

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Posted

Daniel, what is that you want to do with your Boren if you receive it? What do you want to do after you complete your fellowship? I think that knowing what it is you ultimately want to do will help you select which country and language to apply for.

FWIW, I'm in a sort of similar situation. I'm thinking about applying for a Boren for a language I studied as an undergraduate but which I haven't done anything with in about 4 years. Plus, I'm sort of worried about the service requirement based on what people have posted in last year's Boren discussion...

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Posted

Well Im very interested in working over seas and traveling the world. So something in that arena, either foreign service or lobbying.

My goal is to never settle :)

I would love to travel and work in different cou tires for the rest of my life.

I would also consider working on US soil, either for the FBI or some other big agency and use my foreign skills and maybe settle down.

Btw, why are you worries about the service requirement?

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Posted (edited)

Well, I'm worried because they've been talking about their difficult in finding federal jobs, which I doubt is going to get any easier given the impending federal budget cuts. Also, I'm still a bit undecided about whether I want to work in government or the academy once I finish grad school.

Plus, there's another issue. My research focus doesn't have any clear relation to national security (I study local livelihoods), so I'd probably have to come up with another project to get the Boren and I'm not sure what that would be...

Edited by msafiri

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Posted

Oh I see.

I do have one more question.

I have decided to just go ahead and go with Egypt.

But now I must choose with either going in as a NON-Degree student and take classes that will transfer over and help complete my degree, and of course 6 hours of Arabic a week.

Or choose to Apply towards the ALI (Arabic Language Institute) and only study Arabic for a whole year (20 hours a week)

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Posted (edited)

Daniel:

I am presently a Boren Scholar studying advanced Arabic in Jordan. Your chances would be better if you focus your application on your language studies first and your content courses second. Furthermore, Egypt is still in turmoil and you may not be able to go there. You should consider another country. Most, if not all, of the Egyptian and Syrian Boren scholars ended up going to other countries. I did and I was extracted from the Middlebury program in Alexandria during the revolution and I'm still hearing some tough stories from my friends there. I love Egypt and would like to return but I think it will be a while. I would look at Jordan, Oman and Morocco. Your LORs should directly address your language abilities as well as your abilities to manage the pressures of studying abroad for an extended period of time. It takes a lot of flexibility. I have studied in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan and you need to develop your understanding of the Arabic alphabet before you go over.

Edited by riverguide

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Posted

Thanks for the insight riverguide,

I have herd from people that Egypt is not that bad at all. The State Department recently removed it from the travel warning list as well. I am just really stuck on Egypt because I feel it is the center of the Arab world, and that it has a lot of influence in what goes on in the world.

Do you have links to Universities in Jordan or Morocco?

Also, If I have no prior Arabic language, but do know another language fluently, Would my LOR's still be strong enough to compete with those that have prior Arabic?

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Posted

Thanks for the insight riverguide, I have herd from people that Egypt is not that bad at all. The State Department recently removed it from the travel warning list as well. I am just really stuck on Egypt because I feel it is the center of the Arab world, and that it has a lot of influence in what goes on in the world. Do you have links to Universities in Jordan or Morocco? Also, If I have no prior Arabic language, but do know another language fluently, Would my LOR's still be strong enough to compete with those that have prior Arabic?

Hey, just wanted to add my two cents, because I faced a similar situation last year. I applied for the Boren scholarship for Russian. I didn't have any previous Russian language experience, however I'm fluent in Spanish and I had two very strong LORs, one from a language instructor and one from an IR professor. I figured that I would have a pretty good chance because of my academic background and strong essays, but I think not having the Russian language background really hurt my chances.

If I were you, I would take the time now to try and familiarize yourself with the language, whether through taking a beginning class, checking out some Arabic language books, joining some sort of club with Arabic language speakers, anything that shows that you are really committing yourself to the language. Also start your application now and have anyone you can read your essays. I hope this helps you!

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Posted

Hi everyone! I am applying for the 2012-2013 Boren fellowship. I've read all the posts on last years forum and found it very helpful, so if anyone is out there from last year, I'm sure we'd all love your comments. I'm planning on applying to study Czech in the Czech Republic. I'm getting a Master's in Library and Information Science and my classes are all online. This way, I can continue my classes while doing an academic internship in a library in Czech. I speak French and German and have already started to contact the local Czech group and some people I know from Czech so I think I'll be good on the language aspect but I'm very concerned about how to tie Library science into national security. It will definitely not be in the traditional sense. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Also, that comment about the NSEP requirement and finding a job got me concerned too. However, my father works at the consulate in Germany and they apparently help family members find jobs but they're generally store clerk or assistant. Luckily this still qualifies but it'll definitely be a last option.

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Posted

Hey everyone -

I am applying for the Boren for 2012-2013 - I am applying to study Hebrew in Haifa, Israel. I am an international studies major.

Has everyone else started their application?

Dee

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Posted

Hey everyone -

I am applying for the Boren for 2012-2013 - I am applying to study Hebrew in Haifa, Israel. I am an international studies major.

Has everyone else started their application?

Dee

I haven't started mine yet but have been doing a lot of thinking about it so far. I'm also meeting with a couple of people to hash out my ideas

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Posted

Hey Everyone,

I'm new the the gradcafe and I'm also applying for the Boren 2012-2012 round. It'll be great to have a community that's supportive and informative about the process. I am planning to apply to Taiwan for Mandarin Chinese language studies. I've done intensive programs and have studied Chinese for about two years now, so hopefully this will be an advantage over other applicants (China has the most applicants!).

I was wondering if there were any applicants for Chinese and if they can give me some tips :)

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the insight riverguide,

I have herd from people that Egypt is not that bad at all. The State Department recently removed it from the travel warning list as well. I am just really stuck on Egypt because I feel it is the center of the Arab world, and that it has a lot of influence in what goes on in the world.

Do you have links to Universities in Jordan or Morocco?

Also, If I have no prior Arabic language, but do know another language fluently, Would my LOR's still be strong enough to compete with those that have prior Arabic?

Perhaps next year the political climate will be different and I hope it is. I studied in Cairo last Fall with AMIDEAST and loved it and would highly, highly recommend AMIDEAST over AUC. I was extracted from the Middlebury Program in Alexandria in the early spring. Egypt is definitely the place to study and developing your colloquial Egyptian is as important as developing your colloquial Levantine. You will need to have some prior experience (at least 2 classes) before you apply to these programs. Its important to develop your Arabic calligraphy with full knowledge of the alphabet. I would also suggest you consider Jordan and Oman. You are going to need to have a back-up plan outside of Egypt. I miss Egypt everyday. Alex was awesome. Look into the CET programs also. I would highly recommend the Middlebury and CET programs in Jordan and Egypt also. I have studied at all three of the programs that I have mentioned. My only reservation (and its a big one) about AUC is that you are located way out of Cairo, its a one hour bus ride and you spend most of your time in a secure compound with fellow Americans and that is definitely not the way to learn Arabic and colloquial Egyptian IMHO.

http://www.middlebury.edu/sa/middleeast/jordan

http://cetacademicprograms.com/programs/jordan/arabic-language-jordan/

http://www.amideast.org/abroad/programs/jordan

Edited by riverguide

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Posted (edited)

Hey Everyone,

I'm new the the gradcafe and I'm also applying for the Boren 2012-2012 round. It'll be great to have a community that's supportive and informative about the process. I am planning to apply to Taiwan for Mandarin Chinese language studies. I've done intensive programs and have studied Chinese for about two years now, so hopefully this will be an advantage over other applicants (China has the most applicants!).

I was wondering if there were any applicants for Chinese and if they can give me some tips :)

I'm a current Boren recipient and can give you some general tips. Write, re-write and write again your essays. Show them to your professors, your friends and anybody who will give you critical advice. Start early. The essays and the LORs will make or break you. Make sure the LORs are from academics who know you or who have taught you and show them your essays and resume so that they have details to include in your LORs. Research your future career so that you can include a relevant definition and relationship of national security to your prospective field.This is more difficult than it sounds because even though they say "broadly defined" it should be more than that and it should show an intellectual curiosity and an ability to distinguish yourself from others. Don't use general characteristics of the country where you want to study but rather be VERY specific about why and what you want to study there and how it will enhance and compliment your future national security employment. Make sure you directly address (and your LORs address) your ability to function for a year (they don't want you to leave the country for breaks or holidays and you have to apply for written permission to do so and don't plan on it absent a family emergency you might have to document) in a challenging and very different environment. Don't minimize this because this is and can be a very real problem with many study abroad students and you need to cite other challenges in your background where you have "adapted to and overcome" obstacles, hurdles and challenges. Research the academic programs, specific classes and off campus opportunities (language buddies, clubs, charity work, etc where you can learn outside of the classroom) and also research your living arrangements. I also contacted former students from the programs and interviewed them about the programs and opportunities and included my research in my essays. Listen to all of the WEBINARS because they will clue you in to common mistakes (typos and stupid comments in your LORs for example) that are made in applications. If you write less than a dozen drafts of each essay you have seriously eroded your chances. Let your essay ferment for a couple of days between drafts. The essays for successful applicants are very, very professional, extremely well written and well thought through (I have seen many of them). This scholarship is very competitive; but it will also distinguish you in Grad School applications and future job applications and you receive a lot of publicity, should you become a Boren Scholar. I was interning for a US Senator and never met him until I received the Boren and he came to my cube and personally congratulated me and my life has never been the same since. Its a lot of work but it also is an incredible opportunity. I would suggest finding a challenging program that is competitive. I strongly recommend the Middlebury and CET programs. You will need to apply and be accepted to the program before you know whether you receive the Boren so start on that now as well. Most of the top programs require LORs too! I have studied with Boren Scholars in the past and am studying with five Boren scholars now and they are incredible peers and friends. They improve every class I'm in with them. On some occasions we get together with Boren Scholars in other cities in the country where I'm studying and they too are excellent linguists and great friends. There is a camaraderie among the Boren Scholars that comes from shared commitment, ability and achievement and it is a great and very exclusive group of colleagues. We challenge each other to be better linguists and intuitive regional/cultural experts. Everyone has a diverse and accomplished background and we are all committed students in our fields. Good luck and remember: you can never try too hard or spend too much time in earning the Boren Award -and its worth it!

Edited by riverguide

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Posted

I'm a current Boren recipient and can give you some general tips. Write, re-write and write again your essays. Show them to your professors, your friends and anybody who will give you critical advice. Start early. The essays and the LORs will make or break you. Make sure the LORs are from academics who know you or who have taught you and show them your essays and resume so that they have details to include in your LORs. Research your future career so that you can include a relevant definition and relationship of national security to your prospective field.This is more difficult than it sounds because even though they say "broadly defined" it should be more than that and it should show an intellectual curiosity and an ability to distinguish yourself from others. Don't use general characteristics of the country where you want to study but rather be VERY specific about why and what you want to study there and how it will enhance and compliment your future national security employment. Make sure you directly address (and your LORs address) your ability to function for a year (they don't want you to leave the country for breaks or holidays and you have to apply for written permission to do so and don't plan on it absent a family emergency you might have to document) in a challenging and very different environment. Don't minimize this because this is and can be a very real problem with many study abroad students and you need to cite other challenges in your background where you have "adapted to and overcome" obstacles, hurdles and challenges. Research the academic programs, specific classes and off campus opportunities (language buddies, clubs, charity work, etc where you can learn outside of the classroom) and also research your living arrangements. I also contacted former students from the programs and interviewed them about the programs and opportunities and included my research in my essays. Listen to all of the WEBINARS because they will clue you in to common mistakes (typos and stupid comments in your LORs for example) that are made in applications. If you write less than a dozen drafts of each essay you have seriously eroded your chances. Let your essay ferment for a couple of days between drafts. The essays for successful applicants are very, very professional, extremely well written and well thought through (I have seen many of them). This scholarship is very competitive; but it will also distinguish you in Grad School applications and future job applications and you receive a lot of publicity, should you become a Boren Scholar. I was interning for a US Senator and never met him until I received the Boren and he came to my cube and personally congratulated me and my life has never been the same since. Its a lot of work but it also is an incredible opportunity. I would suggest finding a challenging program that is competitive. I strongly recommend the Middlebury and CET programs. You will need to apply and be accepted to the program before you know whether you receive the Boren so start on that now as well. Most of the top programs require LORs too! I have studied with Boren Scholars in the past and am studying with five Boren scholars now and they are incredible peers and friends. They improve every class I'm in with them. On some occasions we get together with Boren Scholars in other cities in the country where I'm studying and they too are excellent linguists and great friends. There is a camaraderie among the Boren Scholars that comes from shared commitment, ability and achievement and it is a great and very exclusive group of colleagues. We challenge each other to be better linguists and intuitive regional/cultural experts. Everyone has a diverse and accomplished background and we are all committed students in our fields. Good luck and remember: you can never try too hard or spend too much time in earning the Boren Award -and its worth it!

Thank you for the advice! How detailed should my description be with my future government service requirement

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Posted

Thank you for the advice! How detailed should my description be with my future government service requirement

I would read up about the specifics of your field. I would read your proposed agency's employment pages to see what type of skills they are seeking and I would also research their "surge" needs. If they have a hiring mandate in a certain area where you'd like to work I'd empathize that. I would also talk to people in that area and see if you can get some hands on career advice and background. Good luck.

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Posted

I'm a current Boren recipient.

I STRONGLY ADVISE the OP AGAINST studying a language he hasn't studied before. I never formally took Russian, I was entirely self taught (and thus my horrible grammar proved it), but everyone else who won it took a full year of Russian or more. It's really not the norm to award people who haven't studied the language. I "made up" for this by stating, and it's true, that I've been into Russian since I was 8 and the only reason I never took Russian was because it was never offered at my uni. But most winners have studied the language, so applying when you know nothing will really hurt you. (Not to mention how insanely difficult it is to live somewhere where you know only the very very basics of a language).

That being said, the most important parts are your essays and the LOR. Your essays need to focus on specifics, ie; which career/department you want to work in, why this country is important (and be specific, don't use things that anyone who reads CNN every now and then know), and you need to have a great plan as to how you will use this language in your future. The job I want requires a critical language and I want my graduate degree to be in Russian so in my case it was easier.

If you look at the award recipient list, they prefer people who tie in international relations/economics/politics into the mix, since we are talking national security. I'm an econ major, and given the nature of the "security" essay, I have no idea how an art major would do this, but there are plenty of X language + X language literature who seem to get the award.

Your LORS are vital and should come from your academic advisors who know you best, obviously. Pick people that you've done research with or taken many classes with. You may send 3 LORS, but in my opinion, two great LORS are much better than three mediocre ones or worse a two great ones and an extremely unprofessional one. I threw away one of my LORS when I realized just by how he spoke to me that the letter he wrote (I didn't see it, but he told me about it) was nothing more than a document he had saved up that he changed the names/majors/etc for each student.

Write about grad school (if you're an undergrad of course). They want to know you won't just go to X country to party, but that you'll actually study, learn the language, and apply said knowledge in your grad school and career choices.

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Posted

riverguide, thanks for the excellent advice! I'm still trying to decide whether or not to throw my hat in the ring for the Boren. Anyone else still on the fence? Anyone have any advice to offer on how to decide?

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Posted

riverguide, thanks for the excellent advice! I'm still trying to decide whether or not to throw my hat in the ring for the Boren. Anyone else still on the fence? Anyone have any advice to offer on how to decide?

For me it was, that I want to work in the federal government. If you don't want to, I would never do it, since it's a requirement once you win it.

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Posted

For me it was, that I want to work in the federal government. If you don't want to, I would never do it, since it's a requirement once you win it.

Oh, I definitely want to work for the government, which is why I'm considering the Boren at all. But, I'm worried that having had a Fulbright for a different region and language will make me look flaky to the reviewers. For me, the incentive the Boren offers is a chance to study a language that I haven't studied since I was an undergraduate and to do so while living in a country where it is spoken, which is an opportunity I've never had. I have no idea what kind of research project I would do along with that though.

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Posted (edited)

Oh, I definitely want to work for the government, which is why I'm considering the Boren at all. But, I'm worried that having had a Fulbright for a different region and language will make me look flaky to the reviewers. For me, the incentive the Boren offers is a chance to study a language that I haven't studied since I was an undergraduate and to do so while living in a country where it is spoken, which is an opportunity I've never had. I have no idea what kind of research project I would do along with that though.

Actually it's going to give you an advantage. They WANT people who not only say, but can prove that they can deal with being abroad, with learning a new language, etc. Few Boren winners have little or no experience abroad.

Edited by StephanieM

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Posted

Actually it's going to give you an advantage. They WANT people who not only say, but can prove that they can deal with being abroad, with learning a new language, etc. Few Boren winners have little or no experience abroad.

Thanks! That is excellent news. I'm glad it won't make me look to flaky or unfocused.

Does anyone have any ideas or advice for finding an appropriate project to do in addition to language study? I'm most interested in going to East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, or Mozambique) and in doing the African Languages Initiative (domestic and overseas in Swahili or just overseas in Portuguese) but I am also interested in learning Portuguese in Brazil. Does anyone have any experience with applying to any of these countries? Does anyone have any experience with the African Languages Initiative? Thanks again for everyone's help!

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Posted

The advantage of the ALI program is that it doesn't require prior language skills in the African language you choose. It is geared to those with prior language training but not in the particular African language chosen. Msafiri, I don't think you want to go to Egypt this year either and I wouldn't consider that an option. The Boren people are sensitive to areas with security problems. The Lebanon, Egypt and Syria Boren programs were all cancelled this year. These programs fill up early so you need to apply for them and if any of you haven't started your essays and requests for LORs yet, you aren't taking the process seriously. Most of you should have your second draft done by now. Also, remember you have to be accepted in these programs BEFORE you find out if you get the Boren and many of these programs are VERY competitive and require essays, transcripts and LORs. Many of them were filled up when several Boren recipients found out they made it and were not allowed to go to their chosen country because of the political climate and were forced to either give up their Boren awards or had to choose a program in a country that was at the bottom of their list. This isn't a scholarship for those who aren't decisive, creative, and tenacious. Overachievers are the norm and not the exception. It is an elite bunch that can handle the challenges of dealing with ambiguity and living in an environment far from your comfort zone. If you can't overcome and adapt then you should look elsewhere because the Boren selection committees don't suffer fools easily. If any of you are offended by what I have posted here then you should look for a scholarship elsewhere. You don't have to be someone who has studied languages your whole life to get the Boren and most of the recipients I know have had between 2-4 semesters of the language (except for the African languages). Stephanie is one of the exceptions but her lack of classroom work in Russian was offset by her incredible journey of teaching herself the language and her tenacious attitude. So, choose a program in the next week, write your essays and get the show on the road. Those who hesitate have already lost...

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Posted (edited)

riverguide, it's great for you to talk and act like a know-it-all, but you should probably remember that you aren't. You're speaking based on the experiences of a few applicants and you have no idea what those writing here (like me) are doing or not doing. We already know what the program requires. We've already read all of that information online more than once. We know that we'll be living in another country where things may not go smoothly all the time. In fact, many of us (including me) have already done so in the past and look forward to the chance to do so again. So, get off your high horse and stop preaching to us. Or, if you're going to stay there, you could at least properly understand what I wrote. I never said anything about wanting to go to Egypt, Syria, or Lebanon, and I have no idea where you got the idea that I did (unless you somehow consider those countries part of East Africa). I also never said anything about not having a background in the language I want to study.

From where I'm sitting, the Boren is an incredible, though specific, opportunity. It's also one that 16% of applicants were accepted for last year. While, on the one hand, that number seems challenging, it is also higher than the percentage accepted for most other national competitions. I find that intriguing and am curious about why that is the case. I'm also intrigued that Swahili and Portuguese are on the top 5 list for most recipients but not for most applicants.

If anyone wants to be helpful, I would love some feedback from people that have actually participated in the African Languages Initiative. Thanks in advance! I really appreciate the (mostly) helpful and supportive responses I have gotten from people on this forum. That said, there seem to be very few posters here. Are there other, more active places where Boren applicants/recipients are?

Edited by msafiri

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