STARTALK language and culture program helped shape alumnus's career

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The STARTALK Arabic Academy, which will be held June 18 to July 13 at Penn State’s University Park campus, offers scholarships to high school and college students to study Arabic.

The Arabic Academy is an innovative, federally funded program of intensive summer study designed for highly motivated undergraduate and high school students who wish to gain introductory knowledge of the Arabic language and its people and cultures.

The summer experience was especially impactful for Penn State alumnus Brian Adair, as it helped to shape his future career path.

Adair was first introduced to STARTALK as a high school junior. He said he had a fantastic experience learning Arabic in an immersive environment, which sparked his interest in international cultures and languages as the focus of his college career and beyond.

After STARTALK, he practiced his Arabic and enriched his cultural perspectives during two study abroad programs in Morocco. In addition to his three majors in French, global and international studies, and telecommunications, he completed minors in Arabic and Middle East studies.

In 2016 and 2017, Adair was selected to work as an intern for the STARTALK academies, affording him the opportunity to experience the program again from the instructor’s side. 

Adair’s involvement with STARTALK and Middle East cultures reinforced his commitment to the causes of international education. Today he works in the Education Abroad office in the Penn State Office of Global Programs.

Adair said he is always excited to meet former STARTALK participants preparing for a study abroad program in the Middle East and North Africa.

“I cannot take full credit for my interests in Arabic, French, Middle East studies, and global and international studies, that made up my academic career, without acknowledging the impact of the Arabic Academy at Penn State,” he said.

The program is available through the Language Institute at Penn State, offered by Penn State Outreach and the School of Global Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

In addition to Arabic, the institute offers summer languages courses in Chinese, English as a second language, French, German, ancient Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Scholarships also are available for studying Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Portuguese and Russian.

Penn State’s summer language programs are open to undergraduate and graduate students from any institution, as well as highly motivated high school students, interested in building language and intercultural competence. Visit the Language Institute at Penn State online for program and scholarship information, or email Elena Galinova, the institute’s academic director, at

Last Updated May 11, 2018