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Germantown student awarded scholarship to study abroad

Lea Malkhoufi

By Mac Trammell

A linguistically accomplished Germantown student has received a national scholarship to pursue yet another language in a national study abroad program.

Lea Makhloufi, a Germantown High School student, received a U.S. Department of State National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship for 2015-16. She will be studying Arabic in Oman this summer.

She said she chose Arabic because she disagrees with the stereotype that media portray Islamic people like terrorists, when in fact, as she noted, Islam is one of the most peaceful religions in the world.

Makhloufi is one of only 620 competitively selected students from across the United States who will receive a scholarship to study a number of different languages with NSLI-Y. While in Oman, she’ll receive formal instruction and informal language practice in an immersion environment.

Even though the application process for the NSLI-Y was difficult and lengthy, Makhloufi said the work was worth the opportunity.

“It was probably one of the hardest applications I’ve ever done,” the 16-year-old Makhloufi said. “There was a bunch of smaller essays I had to do, but that’s nothing to being able to travel 7,000 miles away.”

Makhloufi is a rising senior at Germantown, where she currently studies both Spanish and French, and is in the International Baccalaureate program. She said she is fluent in Spanish, but less so in French, even though her parents speak it at home.

Last summer, she was selected to attend the Tennessee Governor’s School for International Studies program at the University of Memphis where she studied the Bengali language. She stressed the importance the Governor’s School for International Studies had on her, going so far as to say that it changed her life. After attending, she said she realized what field she wanted to go into after school: national security.

Although some of her family will worry about her as she heads to a faraway place, she couldn’t be more thrilled.

“I called every member of my family I could get in touch with,” Makhloufi said of when she found out she’d won the scholarship. “I was jumping and so excited.”