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Bangor student learns Chinese in China

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High School junior wins scholarship to study language abroad

BANGOR - While most students will attend camp, work a part-time job or just spend a little time sleeping in this summer, one Bangor High student will be thousands of miles from home learning Chinese.

"Basically what you do is they send you to China for six weeks. It's not to fully learn the language, it's more to spark an interest or familiarity and then come back home and maybe study it or go back to China to study it for a year," explained Patrick Coyne.

Coyne is one of approximately 625 students awarded a National Security Language Initiative (NSLI-Y) for Youth scholarship for 2013-2014. The NSLI-Y program provides merit based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly-taught languages during the summer and/or academic year in an overseas immersion program. Students like Coyne have the opportunity to study Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian or Turkish. So why did Coyne choose Chinese?

"[China] is emerging as a strong nation and my mom is good friends with the Chinese teacher at my school," he said. "I went to China for three weeks [last year] and we went with a group of people that were fluent in Chinese. Watching them was great and I wanted to learn how to communicate as well as they did."

Coyne's trip is fully covered through the scholarship including domestic and international travel, tuition, academic preparation, language testing, educational and cultural activities focused on language learning, orientation, meals and accommodations.

"I do have fears. Everyone has fears, so because of that you just have to focus on what a great opportunity it is," explained Coyne.

The high school junior said it's too soon to know how his experience in China will influence his future, but he's sure it'll come in handy.

"[Being able to speak Chinese] just opens up so many windows for you," he said. "I could work as a translator or work in foreign country. I don't know what I'd like to do yet. I hope I can put this opportunity to good use in the future."

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