(Sarasota, FL – March 7, 2011) — New College of Florida student Anamica Bedi will study Punjabi this summer in India on a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Bedi is a fourth-year student from Columbia Heights, Minn., and was one of 575 students out of more than 5,200 applicants to earn a scholarship. This is the second consecutive year that a New College student has won the top government grant. Graduating senior Sarah Brown was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Chinese in China in 2010.

Bedi’s study will take place in Chandigarh, the capital city in the northern region of Punjab. In addition to intensive language study, Bedi will explore the region’s ecology and biology, her area of concentration at New College.

“Punjab is high in biodiversity, with many species only found in that part of the world,” says Bedi. “The riverine nature of Punjab directly relates to my interests in phytoplankton ecology, the subject of my undergraduate thesis. However, the biological importance of the region is poorly understood by the global community.”

Bedi first studied Punjabi in her father’s Sikh temple as a child but only managed to learn some of the alphabet. This program will be the first time she will be immersed in intensive study of the language.

“It is a new opportunity for growth, a new way to see the world, a way to flex a new pair of muscles,” says Bedi. “I am sure the program in Punjab will show me some great things about myself and the people of the world.”

Bedi, whose ancestral roots also stem from Brazil, spent the 2010 spring semester in the Amazon on a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In Brazil she made close ties with her host family in Belém, worked with a scientist at the local university and spent two weeks riding down Amazonian rivers through the rain forest.

The state department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors the Critical Language Scholarship Program to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Participants cover approximately one year’s worth of language study during the summer institutes, which last from eight to ten weeks and include four to five hours of language instruction each day, five days a week. The program is administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and the American Councils for International Education.

Photo Caption: New College of Florida student Anamica Bedi floats down the Rio Negro while studying in Brazil last spring on a state department scholarship to Brazil. Bedi studies in India this summer for intensive study of Punjabi on a scholarship from the state department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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