Thesis students Lorelei Domke, a Chinese Language and Culture Area of Concentration (AOC), Kaithleen Coñoepan, a Classics/Spanish Language and Culture AOC, and Naimul Chowdhury (‘15), a first year in the New College Data Science Masters program, attended the first annual Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Alumni Society conference on Mar. 30. The conference was held at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C. Domke, Coñoepan and Chowdhury received funding from Student Affairs to attend the conference. Domke and Coñoepan are recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, and Domke is also a recipient of the CLS.
“The conference served as a venue to share our Department of State study abroad experiences, networking and language exchange, provide feedback about the newly formed non-profit organization and discuss open leadership positions,” Chowdhury said in an email interview. He now serves as the Data Coordinator for the society.
While Domke, Coñoepan and Chowdhury did not present at the conference, the three students played a vital part in the weekend.
“We served an important role as one of the only non-D.C. based schools to be present at the conference,” Chowdhury said. “Aside from meeting some incredibly accomplished alumni, we also participated in a productive Diversity and Inclusion workshop where we highlighted the ways in which CLS is lacking in diversity initiatives. After the workshop, Lorelei and I were asked to participate in a podcast recording to reiterate what we had discussed.”
Chowdhury noted the beneficial outcomes of the conference for the greater New College community.
“We attended this conference to maximize our insights on what it takes to be a successful applicant to U.S. Department of State study abroad programs, and to make fully-funded study abroad programs accessible to all students at New College, especially those who feel like study abroad is not financially feasible,” Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury, Domke and Coñoepan will hold an informational session on Thursday, May 2, where they will discuss their experiences at the conference and abroad.