Critical Language Scholarship Program

Participant Story

Sabrina Hassan Interview

Sabrina Hassan eating meal with host family Meals are always sweeter when shared with host sisters.

Sabrina Hassan, a CLS scholar who studied Swahili in Tanzania, never considered study abroad until she encountered the CLS program.

“I couldn’t think of a way to justify thousands of dollars spent on one program, when I could be working and saving up money instead. I know I’m not the only person who has let financial concerns prohibit them from capitalizing on available opportunities, and that is why I celebrate the fact that CLS is a full scholarship.”

Sabrina comes from a multi-ethnic background. She was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania and moved to Northern Virginia at a very young age. She did not learn Swahili growing up, yet always had a desire to return to her roots and learn the language.

“Growing up I always knew that I was “African” but I didn’t quite know what being African meant.”

Going back to Tanzania and studying Swahili was a way for Sabrina to learn more about her identity.

The CLS program took Sabrina to Arusha, Tanzania where she advanced her Swahili language skills in the eight-week intensive summer language program. Studying abroad without the burden of financial concerns allowed Sabrina to fully immerse herself in the host culture and develop strong relationships with her host family, teachers, and fellow scholars. Through CLS she came to understand the many benefits of study abroad and the value that potential employers place on international experience. The CLS program also helped Sabrina realize that it is possible to have a career in which she can use her Swahili language skills. Sabrina is currently continuing her study of Swahili at Boston University.

Now, a CLS Alumni Ambassador, Sabrina shares her CLS experiences with others and aims to motivate students who come from a similar multi-ethnic and limited income background to apply for the scholarship. She plans on speaking at her university’s study abroad information sessions and language fairs and hopes to have her CLS experience published in her community college’s newspaper.

“I want to let my fellow classmates know that they don’t have to wait to attend a four-year university to start capitalizing on all of the amazing opportunities out there!”