I feel really honored, and I'm excited to get the privilege and to be able to represent my community and my high school. —Kelsey Paulding

SALT LAKE CITY — A Skyline High School senior will spend six weeks studying Chinese in Hangzhou, China, after being selected to receive a special scholarship from the Department of State.

Kelsey Paulding is one of 625 U.S. students selected for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarships, which give students the chance to study less commonly taught languages in immersion programs overseas.

The scholarship covers all program costs, including travel and accommodations, and offers study opportunities in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian and Turkish.

"I feel really honored," Paulding said, "and I'm excited to get the privilege and to be able to represent my community and my high school."

Paulding, an International Baccalaureate student at Skyline, said she has taken three years of Chinese and understands the basics of the language. She will be living with a host family in China, who she said likely will know very little English.

"I can communicate my needs," Paulding said. "It’ll be quite an adventure, but I think I’ll learn really fast."

The scholarship program was launched in 2006 with the goal of igniting a lifelong interest in language among students and providing young Americans with the skills needed to engage in international dialogue, according to Bart Pogue of the American Councils for International Education.

Pogue said participants in the program receive training that could potentially lead to a career in public service, but the hope of officials with the program is that they take their language skills to whatever industry or career field they choose.

"It's very important for students, no matter what their field, to have language skills and cultural competency," he said.

After China, Paulding will be attending the University of Utah, where she has received a full-tuition scholarship and has been accepted into the honors college. She plans on studying business and Chinese, with the goal of eventually going into a career in either international law or international business.

Pogue said the 625 scholarship winners were selected from an applicant field of approximately 3,200 candidates.

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