DELAWARE, Ohio — Ohio Wesleyan University student Alexandra Webb has earned a 2014-2015 David L. Boren Award for International Study from the National Security Education Program.
Webb will use her $10,000 Boren Scholarship to study Mandarin Chinese at National Taiwan University, widely regarded as the world’s leading institution for immersion studies in the Chinese language.
Webb, a junior from Tipp City, will attend National Taiwan University, located in Taipei City in northern Taiwan, from June-December.
At Ohio Wesleyan, she is a politics and government major and a religion and Chinese minor.
Webb’s Boren Scholarship requires that she work in the federal government for at least one year, which aligns well with her career goals. After graduation, Webb hopes to pursue a career with the U.S. government, working as an intelligence community case officer, or similar, focused on Taiwan-China-U.S. relations.
“I hope to base my career on helping the U.S. develop relations with both of these nations peacefully, and furthering U.S. interests in becoming an influential force in the Asia-Pacific region,” Webb said. “Since I first began to learn about Taiwan and understand its culture in my freshman year of college, I have been interested in the island and its delicate relationship with China, especially in the way the U.S. has handled the situation by balancing its support for freedom and democracy while at the same time refraining from damaging relations with increasingly influential China.”
Webb already has gained significant firsthand insight into the Chinese and Taiwanese cultures through her participation in two Ohio Wesleyan Travel-Learning Courses. Webb traveled to Taiwan in 2012 and mainland China in 2013 in classes taught by Ching-Hsuan Wu, Ph.D., assistant professor of modern foreign languages.
“[In Taiwan,] we explored the island, visiting different landmarks and important cultural and historical locations and touring Taipei extensively,” Webb said. “We also studied for two weeks at National Taiwan University’s International Chinese Language Program, the same program to which I am now applying.”
“I also traveled to mainland China with my [Ohio Wesleyan] Chinese Literature class,” Webb continued, “where we explored the history and traditions of China, especially as they related to the historical and cultural texts we had read in class. Through these trips, I came to the realization that I was passionate about these two Mandarin-speaking nations.”
Webb was one of 165 undergraduate students nationwide awarded 2014-2015 Boren Scholarships, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), which administers the program for the National Security Education Program. A total of 868 undergraduates applied for scholarships. An additional 106 graduate students earned Boren Fellowships, selected from among 497 applicants.
Collectively, these Boren Scholars and Fellows will live in 43 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East, according to the IIE. They will study 40 different languages, including Arabic, Mandarin, Swahili and Portuguese.
“To continue to play a leadership role in the world, it is vital that America’s future leaders have a deep understanding of the rest of the world,” said University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren, who as a U.S. Senator was the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program and the scholarships and fellowships that now bear his name. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”
Learn more about the Boren Awards at www.borenawards.org. Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Travel-Learning Courses, part of the OWU Connection curricular initiative, at http://tlc.owu.edu.