Kathryn Smart – Learning the Local Language to Learn the Culture (Russian, Chechen)

All Student Stories, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies

Story written by Kathryn Smart, NPTS, ’17

While living in Chechnya, it was common for me to be walking down the street and suddenly hear deep voices yelling something in my direction. Sometimes it was someone asking for directions or yelling at me for breaking social norms.

Francesca Aka – Breaking Down Barriers Through Multilingualism (French, Italian, Spanish, English)

All Student Stories, Master of Public Administration

Story taken from interview with Francesca Aka, MPA, ’18; Written by K.Throgmorton

fran-3Growing up a ‘third culture kid,’ Francesca learned quickly how to adapt to new places and new people. Francesca describes being a third culture kid as being a bridge between cultures. She navigates her family culture and the dominant culture of wherever she is.

Tangut Degfay – My Never-Ending Journey to Learning People (Amharic, English, Japanese, Korean)

All Student Stories, International Policy and Development

Story written by Tangut Degfey, IPD, ’18

for-profile-pic-visiting-nikko-historical-city-in-tochigi-perfecture-japanMy language journey started when I began studying Japanese at Middlebury College. Growing up, I was interested in the East Asian region, particularly the
technology that came from there. We had a TV, a refrigerator, a radio and other electronics equipments that were imported from one or more East Asian countries and the more I saw the names of the countries on those equipments, the more I grew passionate about learning about the culture and geography.

Kuanysh Agaidarov – English here and now and in the future (English, Russian, Kazakh)

All Student Stories, International Policy and Development

Story taken from interview with Kuanysh Agaidarov, IPD, ’18; Written by K. Throgmorton

Growing up in Kazakhstan, most of Kuanysh’s language learning happened in university, supplemented by his study in the English as a Second Language program at the Institute last year. He grew up speaking Kazakh and Russian, his studies at school and university were also in Kazakh and Russian; as a result, he has a strong command of those languages.

Christina Lukeman – Taking Chances, Making Changes (Spanish, Mandarin Chinese)

All Student Stories, Master of Business Administration

Story taken from interview with Christina Lukeman, MBA, ’17; Written by K.Throgmorton

Learning a language is humbling; it’s hard to do and takes time as well as dedication. When Christina talks about the languages she speaks and the learning process they require, she acknowledges just how awkward it can feel to start learning a new language.


Karla Piacentini – Bridging Cultures, Exploring Identities (Spanish, Ilonggo)

All Student Stories, Master of Public Administration

Story taken from interview with Karla Piacentini, IEM/MPA, ’17; Written by K.Throgmorton

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” ~Ludwig Wittgenstein

Language is a bridge that connects people across cultures that engenders an intimate authenticity among language learners. Learning a new language forces you to make mistakes and falter in efforts to gain a better handle on the new language.

Henry Clock – So many languages, so little time (Chinese, Arabic)

All Student Stories, International Policy and Development

Story written by Henry Clock, IPD, ’16

h-clock-great-wallI spent 2012 learning Arabic and Chinese in immersive learning experiences in Morocco, Shanghai and Cairo. Study abroad experiences made both languages come alive but it was difficult to keep up my skills in one language while studying and living in the other.