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Talented language grad receives Fulbright award to Armenia

January 16, 2014

David Estrada, a recent graduate of Arizona State University, has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Armenia.

ASU is among the top three research universities for Fulbright awards in the nation, tied with Princeton and Rutgers.

The Fulbright Program is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries." With this goal as a starting point, the Fulbright Program has provided almost 300,000 participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Estrada applied for the award after interacting with several Fulbright scholars as a student assistant for ASU’s American English and Culture Program (AECP).

“Because of my experience as a Spanish tutor at ASU and an English tutor for many international students studying at AECP, going abroad to teach English seemed like the logical thing to do,” he says.

Originally from California, and already bilingual in Spanish and English, Estrada chose to attend ASU because of value and the university’s strong language and culture programs in the School of International Letters and Cultures.  

Estrada initially chose Asian Languages-Chinese as his major because “it fit perfectly with (his) fascination with learning about different languages and cultures.”

His fascination with languages and cultures also inspired him to study Russian for an entire summer; five days a week, 4 hours a day with ASU’s Critical Languages Institute. “I enjoyed learning Russian so much that I decided to add it as another major,” he says.

The School of International Letters and Cultures, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offers both a minor and a major in Russian language and culture. Russian and other Slavic and Central Asian languages remain strategic, critical languages, with various government scholarships available for research, internships and to study abroad. A knowledge of Russian can lead to jobs in such agencies as the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency, among others.

Estrada is using his language and cultural intelligence skills to teach English in Armenia with the Fulbright program, until July 2014.

Armenia is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. The country is bordered by Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

Estrada is also in the process of applying for international internships. He wants to work in a field where he can use his international experiences and language skills. In addition to his time in Armenia, Estrada spent a year studying abroad in China with the ASU Language Flagship Program and lived in Mexico for two years as a child.

“The study of language is one of the most valuable learning experiences a student can have at a university,” says School of International Letters and Cultures director, Joe Cutter.

Wherever David Estrada ends up next in the world next, his experience at ASU learning languages and cultures will be an invaluable asset to his success.

Written by Matthew Miller, communications intern, School of International Letters and Cultures