Two students recently received the National Gilman Scholarship for study abroad. 

The Gilman Scholarship, given to Kailyn Provitt and Adama Kouyate, is awarded by the U.S. Department of State and helps undergraduate students study or intern abroad.

Provitt will be spending the academic term in Sejong City, South Korea, getting hands-on learning for her double major of Asian studies and anthropology.

“I’ve always had this weird fascination with Asian culture — at least I always thought it was weird,” Provitt said. “When I graduated high school, I was sure I didn’t want to go to college, but I found that I was always gravitating toward Korean culture.

“Japanese pop culture was cool to me, but not exactly my groove. When I came across K-pop, I was instantly sold on the music style, and somehow a love for the language sprouted from that.”

Provitt applied to three colleges and was accepted by all. However, IUP had the most thorough curriculum when it came to her major. 

“I entered as an Asian studies major, for the most part, because I would be able to study not just Japanese but also Korean. 

Most schools don’t offer Korean as part of their Asian studies program, so I was sold.”

Studying in Asia costs less money than studying in the U.S., and Provitt knew the Gilman Scholarship was something that would help pay for the overseas expenses. 

She is also in the middle of brainstorming her thesis, which might require travels to different cultural districts. The Gilman Scholarship helps with those expenses.

Provitt has already arrived at her destination and said she can’t wait to begin her studies.

“I’ve been reading and watching so many pieces and articles about this country; I want to see it all for myself. I am currently there and can say I love it.”

Provitt also said she was scared over the language barrier.

“I didn’t study Korean over the summer before coming here, so it’s a learning experience.”

Provitt is a little out of her comfort zone, but she said she’s excited all the same. Having never been outside of the country, this is her first time away from her friends and family. But she wouldn’t change it for the world, she said. 

“I was very nervous about my size, afraid I wouldn’t be able to fit into anything – elevators, clothes, chairs, you name it. I realize now that it was an irrational fear, and even if I don’t fit into something, it’s perfectly OK to not.”

Provitt said she feels humbled and touched that she was chosen for the scholarship. 

“Receiving the Gilman Scholarship has provided me with a comfort and a humble sense of pride. I have always been worried about my lack of cohesive and concise writing skills, but somehow, they still liked my application.”

The Gilman Scholarship is available through application. Applications are a way to sell yourself, as Provitt said. 

“Be honest and be yourself. That’s so cliche, yes, but it’s the best way to apply for anything.”

To apply for the scholarship, you can go to the website at GilmanScholarship.org. The application cycle is now open for the 2019-20 academic year. 

“Applications are a way to give a preview of how valuable you are as a person before you are an asset. You can be taught any skill but being honest and a unique person is something you only learn from yourself,” Provitt said.

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