I’m Daniel Lindbergh Lang, a nonprofit foundation board director and University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) alumnus, pleased to share alongside my siblings the launch of a new scholarship for students around the world to study in Asia.
Last year, my siblings and I established the 501(c)3 non-profit Lin Yuejun Lang Foundation (LinYL Foundation) in honor of our late mother, 林月君 Lín Yuèjūn Lang. Mom was a passionate supporter of student exchanges. She was an immigrant, having come to the U.S. from China in 1993 and attained citizenship in 2001. She was the first in her family to study overseas. Yet, tragically, she was killed before my siblings and I first went overseas.
Since our mother’s passing, I had gone abroad in summer 2017 with the USAC Shanghai, China program on scholarships, notably including one named for the donor Dr. Marianne Cooley. I had since been abroad in 2018 on the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, in 2019 on Phi Kappa Phi and Honors Undergraduate Research Award grants, and until 2020, as a U.S. Peace Corps Mongolia Volunteer. My younger sister and fellow director, Becky, studied in Hong Kong in 2019, and our youngest sister and president, Vana, will study this spring with the USAC Chiang Mai, Thailand program. Vana chose to collaborate with our board and with USAC to create this scholarship as part of her honors senior capstone. The three of us had each been recipients of Freeman-ASIA Awards, and Vana and I had also been USAC Asia Regional Scholarship recipients. Other directors include our oldest and youngest brothers, Cisco and Tony, who are undergraduates as well.
Vana, an accounting and international business senior in the Honors College at the University of Nevada, Reno, had waited years throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes of going to Chengdu, China. Although she is now preparing to head to Thailand, she plans to make the most of it. “I want to radiate a more mindful presence when I return,” she wrote. “I hope to immerse myself in Thai culture through day-to-day activities, going on the USAC tours and celebrating the Lunar New Year and Songkran Festival in Thailand.” She also plans to immerse herself daily by applying both Thai and Chinese language skills.
Our board has chosen to invest in international education because our mother was such a proponent of it. Mom came to the U.S. to study for a master’s in international affairs at Ohio University. When my siblings and I were growing up in southern Indiana, she and our father would take us to visit Indiana University Bloomington where they supported exchange students from Asia, often from Chinese-speaking areas. Our family also hosted a high school exchange student from Austria. A decade later, after we moved to Nevada and when I was an honors undergraduate preparing for my first study abroad, Mom supported me by connecting me with relatives overseas and preparing me with what to wear and gift.
I studied abroad thanks to financial and personal support. My siblings and I are second-generation Americans through our mother. I remember at the start of college hearing about studying abroad and thinking that I could not afford it. But I learned through honors students and USAC about scholarships. Scholarships came through. Now, our LinYL Foundation seeks to improve access to global education through this scholarship. We hope especially that it supports diversity, equity, and inclusion for underrepresented students.
We felt that our $800 award could not only benefit a student considerably but would also align with traditional Chinese values that our mother cherished. The number eight contains auspicious connotations in Chinese numerology. Eight, pronounced bā, sounds similar to 发 fā, contained in the phrase, 发财 fācái. One can translate this phrase as, “to make a fortune,” or, “to get rich.” In this theme, starting last year, our LinYL Foundation has also been awarding scholarships in the same amount to Clark County School District students who seek to attend colleges and universities.
This will be USAC’s first summer-specific scholarship. We chose summer because fewer funding opportunities are available for students who seek to study during this term. Since USAC expects more students to seek to study abroad as the pandemic wanes, this scholarship will help to support an important funding gap. We are especially grateful to USAC CEO Alyssa Nota, with whom Vana coordinated, who generously agreed to USAC matching our initial investment of $8,000.
We encourage undergraduates aiming to study abroad in one of USAC’s Asia programs to apply for our Lin Yuejun Lang Asia Scholarship via USAC’s scholarship application. I also encourage fellow study abroad alumni to consider investing in and offering scholarships. USAC has been a gracious partner to magnify our reach and our giving. I feel confident that through USAC’s support, more students will experience life abroad.