Boren scholarship to send Leah Sedy ’11 to Japan

Linfield College sophomore Leah Sedy has been selected for a Boren scholarship to study in Kyoto, Japan.

Sedy has long been drawn to the “simple, pure sounds of Japanese, coupled with its beautiful but complicated writing system.”

She’s also been attracted to the Japanese culture and language. At Linfield she made many Japanese friends, including roommates, and has had the opportunity to practice the language.

Now the Japanese major is ready to take her skills to a real-life setting, studying at the Center for Japanese Language and Culture at Doshisha University. The international student program offers courses in Japanese language, history, culture and international studies. Although some courses are taught in English, Sedy will study in Japanese.

Sedy grew up in a military family. As she became interested in the Japanese language, she also became aware of Japanese resentment over the presence of U.S. military bases in the Asian country. In spite of the fact that Japan and the U.S. are staunch allies, the bases are often a source of strained diplomatic ties.

“In my own experience, Americans and Japanese sometimes harbor stereotypes of each other,” Sedy said. “The vastly different cultures and languages exacerbate the misunderstanding. Both countries need skillful and understanding liaisons and interpreters who can navigate and improve relationships between military bases, the surrounding communities and the Japanese government.

“I believe the most important component to improving relationships both between individuals and between nations is competent and ethical communication,” she said.

Sedy’s study in Japan is part of the curriculum at Linfield, where language majors are required to spend a year studying in the country where their chosen language is spoken. In the future she hopes to apply the language and intercultural skills she gains to help foster understanding and respect across cultures.

“Boren Fellowships help students add international emphasis to their education and support the study of less commonly taught languages,” said Deborah Olsen, competitive scholarships advisor at Linfield. Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, the Boren Foundation focuses on geographic areas and languages critical to U.S. national security.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, explore the website at and contact Olsen at

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