Student Spotlight – Adama Tarawally
Tell us a little about yourself (name, major, where you’re from, etc.).
My name is Adama Tarawally. I am a political science major and my minor is Arabic. My family is originally from Sierra Leone, but my siblings and I were all born here.
When did you start thinking about studying abroad/why do you want to study abroad?
I knew I always wanted to go abroad since I was little. I have always loved traveling, so the idea of studying in another country just seemed like the ideal situation. Once I got to college and started formally studying Arabic I knew I wanted to study abroad in the Middle East. After reaching the advanced level of Arabic here at GSU, studying abroad seemed like the logical step to take my Arabic to the next level.
How did you decide on a program? Tell us a little about the program you chose.
First I narrowed down what dialect of Arabic I wanted to learn – which was the Levantine dialect. Then based on the dialect, I narrowed down countries. I couldn’t go to Lebanon or Syria for security reasons so Jordan was just a natural choice, which worked out great because I love the food! CIEE has a great reputation for its study abroad program in Amman, Jordan and since I knew I would be applying for the Boren Scholarship I wanted to choose a program on their list. CIEE really cares about the people who participate in their programs. When I first started my application, I received a phone call from my CIEE advisor introducing herself. They also respond very quickly to emails, so in any program you go abroad with you want to make sure their communication is up to par. With CIEE I will be in the Arabic Language Program. I chose this over the Language and Culture because it guarantees a host family, there is a more intimate class setting and it’s more language Intensive. I also liked that they provide language tutors and also provide volunteer opportunities to provide the chance to practice the language and learn outside the classroom.
As a Boren Scholar, you have received a $20,000 scholarship for your study abroad program. What was the process like applying for such a competitive award?
The process was definitely stressful! It is kind of a scary thought to think that you have to let people get to know you and your potential through basic questions on the online application and through two relatively short essays. But at the same time it was amazing to see how my essays changed and improved over time. More than anything though, it was a balancing act because on one hand you have all your classes and extracurriculars and work and on the other you have this scholarship application that requires a lot of work and attention and could potentially play a big part in determining your future. I had to find the right balance to get everything done.
What advice would you have for students interested in applying for the Boren Scholarship?
The first thing I would say would be to start early. Start looking at the application requirements and all the things you’ll need to do so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Also make sure you have good relationships with your professors because their recommendations mean a lot. With that said, make sure you participate actively in their classes! But more than anything I think you really have to want it. I think the passion and true desire shines through in your essays when you really want it and the panel is looking for that. They want passionate people. Believe in yourself and your ability to win such a scholarship!
What are you most looking forward to during your time abroad?
I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve never been to the Middle East before, so that alone is exciting. But I’m also excited to be in an Arabic speaking country, making mistakes and possibly even getting lost. I’m excited about the adventures I’m going to have trying to navigate through a different culture. As far as the program goes, I’m excited about the trips we go on. We visit a couple historic sites including Petra. I’m also super excited about the volunteering opportunities because not only do I enjoy volunteering, but it also seems like a neat and productive way to learn the language and engage actively in the community. I’m probably most excited about staying with a host family. Everyone I’ve spoken to that has done a homestay has said it was the most rewarding part of their experience abroad and with Middle Eastern hospitality I’m sure my experience will be just as rewarding.