Dane Skorup

Dane Skorup, a Duke Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) and Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow, spent the summer learning Hindi, after earning a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

CLS is part of the U.S. government’s efforts to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Selected scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. Skorup was one of nearly 700 competitively selected American students at U.S. colleges and universities who received a CLS award in 2021.

Skorup said, “I chose to apply for CLS to demonstrate a commitment to international cultural education amid the pandemic, which had ended my Peace Corps service early last year.” CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

“As a total beginner, Hindi was the language in which I could best develop a personal connection, from meeting Indian colleagues, including at Duke, to enjoying Bollywood films and music over the years,” he added. “The program not only kept my study skills sharp during the summer but, more importantly, reminded me of the need for immersion in order to have a true cross-cultural language experience.”

Each year, the CLS Program provides opportunities to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study one of 15 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu. Due to the pandemic, the majority of CLS institutes in 2021 were offered as virtual programs.

A second-year MIDP fellow, Skorup participated in the CLS program while completing his MIDP internship with the North Carolina International Focus program. He is a returned peace corps volunteer who served in Samoa (South Pacific) in the education sector, and he has experience teaching English, Greek, Latin, math and science.

Regarding his future plans, he said, “I’m interested in applying again next summer, and I hope that continuing will make me a better student, teacher, and diplomat for a career in international education—regardless of where that may be.”

Housed in the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) in the Sanford School of Public Policy, the MIDP is a rigorous interdisciplinary program for mid-career and senior-level professionals who plan to dedicate their careers to policy-making and public service in and for developing, post-conflict and transition countries. For more information or to apply, visit the MIDP website.


By April L. Raphiou, DCID Communications Director

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