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5 hours ago, SwissMister said:

@UnawareInGeneral Thanks. Yes, it is Bahasa that I have studied and hope to study through Boren. It was difficult locating an in-class programs that taught Bahasa. I found a distance program at the University of Hawaii, so I took beginning Indonesian last semester. They do offer Indonesian classes for free, however, at the US-Indo Society in D.C.. 

@kbui I think a personal statement is a nice way to humanize the essays a little more; however, I didn't really delve into that. If I could rewrite the first essay, I would integrate a short personal statement – I think you did a smart thing. Yes, I am in my second year of grad school, so I won't have enough runway to apply again. However, I may have enough left to try for the CLS next summer. 

How does the CLS application process compare to the Boren? I have only looked it over briefly, and would like to hear someone's personal experience with it. 

Swiss, I am waiting to find out if I got in as a finalist for CLS this summer. I'm through the first round of cuts but there's a window between 15 and 25 February when they normally each year tell you if you are definitely in. 

Basically, there are a series of short essays where you answer questions which I imagine are designed to make you talk about yourself, your commitment to the language, and your reasons for doing so. They all come at it from slightly different angles, maybe the questions are designed to particularly revealing about a candidate in the aggregate, I dunno. They ask things along the lines of.... how do you adapt to new and unfamiliar situations, what will you contribute to your study group if chosen, career goals and why CLS helps with them, and then there's the personal statement which is... just that. Kind of free form on that last one. 

I didn't have anyone read over my essays, I just made a point of explaining in well edited and extensively spelling and grammar checked language my years... and years... of international experience, my work ethic, military experience and how it taught me to cope with the unfamiliar and the stressful, my previous language study and my commitment to the pursuit of it. Emphasized anything that I thought made my case in as succinct a manner as I could. 

That one was due very early in the cycle for awards this year, always is. I had only finished about half of my four month intensive program in Guilin last year when I had to write the essays. 

Any excuse/opportunity I find to get back over there though, I pursue it. 

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5 hours ago, kbui said:

I had the same problem @SwissMister. I went from 1,200 words to 700, then back to 800, and I felt like I lost such an important part of my essay. I edited out an entire story that introduced why I was interested in public health, but it was probably for the better because 3/3 people told me to shorten/take it out--but somehow, a little voice inside me told me to keep it. I ended up writing more about why Thailand is important for U.S. national security and how this is the right time for a Boren in my education. I talked about how it's almost impossible to learn Thai back in Minnesota or here at my graduate school, and the highest level they offer is intermediate.

I was a part of a small fellowship admissions committee and was able to read approximately 20 applications from first and second year undergraduate students. One of the biggest things that made their essays less captivating and interesting to read was when they tried to impress me, putting in research data without telling me why these particular issues motivated them to solve it. I was really looking for a personal statement, something to tell me about their lives and what challenges they had to overcome to be here. In the fellowship essay I really tried to tell the committee a little bit about myself and my upbringing before going into the national security argument. I hope the committee appreciates that.

And @UnawareInGeneral I'm applying for Thailand for the fellowship. I was talking about when I was applying for a scholarship to Taiwan and had to get a language evaluation. At that point my Chinese was terrible, and I'm not even sure what my Chinese teacher wrote in my letter because I rarely spoke Chinese to him.

Seems like both of you are in your second year of graduate school. That may work in your favor since this is the only year that you can receive it. But I hope that doesn't work in my disfavor... haha.

Well, I'm pursuing a second masters degree part time via correspondence after I finish my full time program this semester. I will continue to apply to these sorts of programs until I either find myself in the place I want to be employment wise and don't want to take a break to accept a fellowship or I get past a certain age.... :) (which is not as far away as I'd like) 

I didn't spend much time on my personal history in the essays except where it was relevant to the thread I was weaving between my country of interest, the US, my work and academic experience, my career goals, and ultimately language study. The CLS questions seemed more toward a, tell us about your life sort of question than the Boren. If you can show commitment to your studies and professional goals through your approach I don't imagine it's detrimental at all. Dunno if it's helpful, but I think it's important to communicate your commitment as well in these types of things. However that manifests in your writing in the most natural and concise way, can't see anything wrong with that. 

I know some scholarships/fellowships are looking for that specifically, I never asked that sort of question when I had the opportunity to with the Boren reps however. 

I have gone to my submitted application page twice since submitting the thing to re-read my essays for spelling, grammar, or logic errors though. Just to reassure myself I didn't screw up and submit an unedited essay... 

 

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6 hours ago, UnawareInGeneral said:

I have gone to my submitted application page twice since submitting the thing to re-read my essays for spelling, grammar, or logic errors though. Just to reassure myself I didn't screw up and submit an unedited essay... 

I have done this same thing. No errors, but some areas where I could have expanded a little more. 

Edited by SwissMister

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Sounds like everyone is pretty confident. We now just play the waiting game. Fortunately, this graduate school program will keep me busy until we at least hear back about budget updates.

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4 hours ago, kbui said:

Sounds like everyone is pretty confident. We now just play the waiting game. Fortunately, this graduate school program will keep me busy until we at least hear back about budget updates.

So, when do you think for the budget updates, March? 

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2 hours ago, kbui said:

I found a Google Sheet on the Boren for 2015-16 and made another copy (the old one was deleted by the creator) that will give us an approximate notification time for this year. 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mmvm990nOB1j9Q3uuJ8Bl4Kb4d5iAGdF3wC_xg6xo6c/edit?usp=sharing

Awesome, @kbui. This is what I was looking for. Thanks for digging and posting. So, it looks more like end of February. Too bad the budget update email isn't a reliable indicator any longer, haha. The acceptance rate for Fellowship applicants was higher than I thought. 

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48 minutes ago, SwissMister said:

Awesome, @kbui. This is what I was looking for. Thanks for digging and posting. So, it looks more like end of February. Too bad the budget update email isn't a reliable indicator any longer, haha. The acceptance rate for Fellowship applicants was higher than I thought. 

Yeah, browsing last year's Boren thread there seems to be zero correlation between awards and the budget update notification now. Why does the one government appendage that evolves have to be this one? 

 

 

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I thought that the acceptance rate would be lower, actually, since in 2014 it was around 21.3%. I've been thinking about the possibility of getting this amazing opportunity to go back to Thailand throughout the day, and I can't wait until April/May to know. The wait is killing me!

https://www.borenawards.org/sites/default/files/boren_fellowship_summary_stats_42.pdf

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1 hour ago, UnawareInGeneral said:

Yeah, browsing last year's Boren thread there seems to be zero correlation between awards and the budget update notification now. Why does the one government appendage that evolves have to be this one? 

 

 

I know right? If they had kept it the way it was, if we didn't get the budget update at least we can just relax and find other opportunities and have more time to go through the seven stages of grief.

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2 hours ago, kbui said:

I thought that the acceptance rate would be lower, actually, since in 2014 it was around 21.3%. I've been thinking about the possibility of getting this amazing opportunity to go back to Thailand throughout the day, and I can't wait until April/May to know. The wait is killing me!

https://www.borenawards.org/sites/default/files/boren_fellowship_summary_stats_42.pdf

Those numbers are interesting, but I feel like they are probably not very pertinent this year. Still, roughly 1 in 5 admitted for Mandarin in China is what I read regarding pretty much every other year as well. There's some consistency there over several years. 

In the past 3 years what passes for the most important locations, most important areas of concern, has certainly shifted. Not to mention, has the political climate of late resulted in people pulling their applications owing to no desire to go to work for the government at the moment or a flood of people deciding to submit applications in the last two-three weeks in order to have a chance st delaying dealing the hiring freeze/political climate? Or has it not affected it at all? 2014 was a relatively "normal" year compared to this one in regards to anything federal. I'd be surprised if there were no impact one way or the other. That would be interesting data to have. 

I understand about dwelling on it. I'm doing the same despite my best efforts not to. I was over there for four months in the fall at a school where two borens had gone to study, one of whom was a friend a year ahead of me at my college. The progress they made being able to focus on language exclusively was exceptional, would be nice to get that chance for sure. 

I loved Thailand the few times I've been, but it was never for longer than a couple of weeks. Had a friend teach English there for a couple of years, same one who received a Boren for Mandarin.  

 

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I do hope that fewer people applied in response to the new administration for our sake, but at the same time, we need more talented people to continue entering the government--and so I have mixed feeling about that. I was talking to some alums and they told me that since I'm not applying for one of the major languages that I may have a higher chance, though I'm not totally convinced yet and don't want to get my hopes up.

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14 minutes ago, kbui said:

I do hope that fewer people applied in response to the new administration for our sake, but at the same time, we need more talented people to continue entering the government--and so I have mixed feeling about that. I was talking to some alums and they told me that since I'm not applying for one of the major languages that I may have a higher chance, though I'm not totally convinced yet and don't want to get my hopes up.

Oh I am still assuming I didn't get it until I know either way. I just can't stop myself reading everything that's floating around out there about it. I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be working on something else today, can't remember what that is though. 

They awarded 17 of the 101 fellowships last year for Mandarin. Don't know if that's representative of 85 applicants for that language or if a higher percentage were awarded last year than in previous years. 

Of the 101 listed as 2016 recipients, 1 was for Thai. Of course if they only had 4 applicants that's still 25%!

 

Edited by UnawareInGeneral

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Thai is not a very popular language to learn, but it is one of the more competitive locations for Fulbright ETAs. It might be that there are a lot of applications for Thailand but because it's not as urgent for the U.S. as Chinese, Arabic, or Russian are, Boren might just give less priority for it. I'm overanalyzing all of this for sure. 

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I'm trying to dig into the DoD budget to see if there is an increase this year for NSEP funding, specifically Boren funding, but from the reports I haven't been able to find anything worth mentioning.

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When I first found Boren, I was surprised that there weren't more recipients studying in Indonesia. However, there were three Indonesia recipients last year. I would be curious to know how many there are this award cycle. On another note, it looks like Boren doesn't anticipate awarding any scholarships or fellowships for Russia this cycle. With so many of last year's applicants studying Russia – and recent events involving Russia – it makes me wonder what this year's applicant pool will look for those wanting to study Russian in countries other than Russia, e.g., former Soviet bloc states and the Caucasus. I have an affinity for all things Russian, and I started playing around with beginning Russian on DuoLingo. It would have been my second choice for language and country.

Edited by SwissMister

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That's a great observation. I haven't really thought about that, though from the 2016 recipients, I didn't see anyone studying in Russia and so people may already be very well aware that it's not an option, or maybe people apply for it but then will have to choose an alternate program. I would love to learn Russian if given the chance. My previous piano teacher was Russian and I loved the sound of it when she spoke.

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Yes, I think Russian is an interesting and beautiful language that reflects so much of Russia's culture, both contemporary and historical. I think it will continue to be a strategic language for national security for a long time.

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From what I heard from the Boren-folk Russia was definitely off the table, but they were basically counseling people to go ahead and apply along with their back up institution and country. A friend at my program here submitted some sort of pie in the sky plan to go back to the Moscow diplomatic academy where he studied two years ago backed up by some place in Belarus (because Ukraine looks iffy too this year) that he had never been or actually had on sort of personal experience with. 

Edited by UnawareInGeneral
Missed something

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9 hours ago, kbui said:

To respond to someone's question earlier, I found some Boren Fellowship essays that may be of interest.

http://fulfillingthepurpose.blogspot.com/search/label/Boren

Great find, @kbui! Thanks for sharing. Funny, as I was reading through essays 1 and 2, I noticed that they seemed a little long. I checked their word counts, and it looks like both are almost 1200 words. Whew! After reading essay 1, I was worried that mine was severely lacking in detail. 

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Reading through her blog, she definitely made the most out of her fellowship and fully deserved it. Referring back to my past experience with Boren in Taiwan, I didn't know of all the activities and competitions that I would've been a part of if I wasn't there in the first place. Two essays can only give us so much space to write about what we think we want to do, and that can be vastly different than what happens in the country.

I was talking to three Boren Fellow alums, and all three of them changed their plans as soon as they arrived because the circumstances couldn't support what they thought they wanted to do. At least Boren is really flexible when it comes to changing programs as long as they're still language focused.

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@kbui Yes, she definitely painted a clear picture of what she wanted to do, how she planned to do it, and why it was important to her goals and national security. Looking at my first essay, I think I could have delved more into my study plan. I made a case for how my country, region, and language tie into national security, but I didn't really dive into the meat of my study plan until essay 2. In her first essay, she explicated -- pretty liberally I might add -- the components of her study plan and precisely how it ties into greater U.S. security interests. I tried to give a brief explanation of this, but didn't want to get lost in the weeds or sound redundant with the my study plan breakdown in my second essay. Hopefully they don't stop reading after our first essay, lol. 

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Hey, everyone, I've been low key creeping on this thread since I submitted my application, and I figured maybe I can help paint a clearer picture of the applicant pool. I am a Sociology student with a strong background in History from the not incorporated territory of Puerto Rico and I am the only applicant from this region for the Boren Scholarship so you can imagine how hard this was for me considering that my Recommenders could not even submit their letters of recommendation because Puerto Rico  was not listed as a state at first, or even listed at all. We have one campus rep and he was in Paraguay during the five months I worked on my application, and I am the first applicant he's submitted. I applied to study Russian Language in Latvia. I am currently an upper intermediate speaker and there is no level of Russian language beyond A2 (Upper Introductory) offered in Puerto Rico, much less bilateral agreements with Russian-speaking institutions. As a result, I coordinated a study abroad for semester in St. Petersburg State University, to prepare for this, my great professor got me a Russian student to practice with and I attended a total of 3 hours of Russian per day plus began to coordinate activities on campus to promote Russian. After I came back from St. Petersburg, I was able to make some calls (also low key fight with the administration with my cohorts) as an Honor student on campus in order to allow Intermediate Russian to be given for the first time in my home institution during this semester. I applied to the Boren Scholarship because there is just no chance to reach an advanced level of Russian in Puerto Rico, I coordinate activities, tutor lower level students, and work with a nonprofit Russian Cultural Center here, so I'm super nervous especially since my essay  dealt with Russian Hybrid Warfare in the baltic states and how it affected U.S. interests ,therefore I had to include at least two paragraphs of context seeing as it is a very specific and uncommon theme. Hopefully y'all have a better idea of how diverse the applicant pool can be, good luck everyone! Keep in mind that everyone has a specific topic and not every essay can be treated the same, for example, it's certainly not the same thing to explain how hunger creates instability in a region and to explain how for example electronic warfare creates instability in a region.

Edited by ladyben-kenobi

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