Douglas Fahrenholz (’19), recent graduate of St. Thomas High School, received the National Security Language Intiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship to study Mandarin abroad. Fahrenholz will plan to study in Kaohsiung, Taiwan at the Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages during the 2019-2020 school year.
The NSLI-Y scholarship program was launched in 2006 to promote critical language learning among American youth. The U.S. Department of State administers these scholarship programs to high school students in locations where the eight NSLI-Y languages are spoken. These languages include Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkish. Fahrenholz was one of ten students out of 3,500 applicants to receive the scholarship.
Fahrenholz developed an eagerness to learn to speak Mandarin from his interest in the Chinese culture. “China is in the news often and having the ability to speak their language opens several doors of opportunity in business and politics,” said Fahrenholz. Although learning to speak Mandarin started out as a hobby for Douglas, he developed a passion for the language after taking a Mandarin class at St. Thomas High School, where he excelled academically.
“The scholarship was posted in the counseling office, and I figured I would take a leap of faith and apply,” said Fahrenholz. He credits the helpful teachers at St. Thomas High School that helped him succeed in this journey of learning to speak Mandarin, including St. Thomas High School teacher, Lorin Lee. Fahrenholz adds, “With the help of Ms. Lee and my tutor, Tina Yang, I was able to learn the language in a more formal way.”
Lee adds, “Douglas’ enthusiasm is what every language teacher hopes to get from each of their students. He not only self-studied the language, he also actively helped co-found and organize meetings and events for the Asian Culture Club here at STH. It’s very rare to see that kind of dedication in a student. I think that with this attitude, he’ll reap many benefits and rewards from his time in Taiwan.”
Mandarin remains his top priority, but he remains open to learning other languages – depending on where his future lands him. Though the U.S. is his home, he is open to living in Asia if it meant continuing to pursue his goals. In 10 years, he hopes to see himself working in management for an embassy.
“I am excited to participate in this program and I look forward to experience interactions with people who understand the Chinese language and culture,” said Fahrenholz.