Jamie Smeland is a recipient of the Summer 2016 and Academic Year 2016-2017 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The award provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with financial support to develop fluency in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) and expertise in the regions in which these languages are spoken. Every year the Center for Global Studies awards between 12-15 fellowships to UW students. Click here to learn more.
As a Master of Public Health student in the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice Program, I am training to enhance my listening skills when working directly with community members. I entered graduate school after ten years of work with Spanish-speaking immigrant and refugee community members and valued how learning Spanish had strengthened my ability to listen and humbled me when working with a community that is not my own. I desired to better understand the broader landscape of global migration and sought to integrate into my graduate studies additional language training.
The Global Studies FLAS allowed me to study Arabic this past summer and to continue to study this academic year. My study of Arabic has woven perfectly into my Capstone Project, where I support a committee of students, parents, and other community members—some of whom are Arabic speakers—who seek to address racism in the education system. Thanks to the FLAS Award, I am able to document and share more fully the policy priorities and solutions put forth by Arabic-speaking committee members. I am eager to continue my Arabic studies after graduation, and to continue to work in multilingual environments where community members drive policy change.