ASMSA students set to study abroad

7 months ago

Two ASMSA students will be spending part of their summer break in Asia as participants in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth.

Noah Raby, a rising senior from Newport, will study Mandarin Chinese in Chengdu, China. Luke Nester, a rising senior from Hot Springs, will study Korean in Jeonju, South Korea. The initiative encourages students to spend six weeks studying a critical language in an intense immersive program.

Raby and Nester will study their respective languages at a school in their host cities. They will also have the opportunity to learn more about the language and cultures in first-hand experiences by living with host families.

Nester visited Japan in the summer of 2017 as a member of a delegation of students from the Hot Springs Sister City Program. Delegation members spent a week living with host families in Hanamaki, Japan. That experience provided him a glimpse into what his trip this summer will be like. However, he expects this year’s trip to South Korea to be more intense.

“I was a guest of the family [on the Hanamaki trip],” Nester said. “Being [in South Korea] for six weeks it will be more like I’m a member of the family. I’ll take on chores and become part of the family. It’ll give me plenty of opportunities to apply my language skills.”

Nester doesn’t have any knowledge of the Korean language, but he’s not too worried. He knew no Japanese before his 2017 trip, but he and his host family found ways to communicate. Whether it was through hand motions or using translation apps on his phone, Nester was able to communicate with his Japanese hosts. He expects it to be the same with his Korean hosts.

Nester said he participated in an intensive online course as well as using other online resources and videos to prepare for his trip. “I had one week to learn the Korean alphabet,” Nester said. He also visited with a fellow ASMSA student who spent last summer in South Korea as a NSLY-I participant.

Raby will have a little bit of an advantage when he arrives in China. He took the Mandarin I class offered at ASMSA during his junior year. Upon enrolling at the school, he thought it would be good to take a new path in language, having previously studied Spanish. He decided to take Mandarin because it is useful for another topic of interest for him — computer science and technology.

Taking the Mandarin class at ASMSA will help him be more comfortable with his host family and teachers, Raby said. He has a beginning base to speak the language and learned some about the culture as well.

“I feel languages are up my alley,” Raby said. “I’m not quite so nervous. It’s comforting to know more Chinese than many English speakers. Your host family may not be perfect in English, so I want to speak in Chinese as much as I can.”

Nester will leave on June 22 for Washington D.C., where he will spend a few days preparing for his trip. Raby will leave for New York City on June 26 to prepare for his trip. They will attend sessions held by the initiative’s sponsor —  the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

In addition to learning the language, the program’s goals include enhancing cross-cultural understanding and deepening trust; sparking a lifetime of interest in foreign language and culture; and developing the skills to advance international dialogue, compete effectively in the global marketplace and contribute to a more peaceful world.

The bureau received more than 3,300 applications from across the United States. Raby and Nester will join approximately 670 other students who will study Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Indonesian or Russian this summer, according to a bureau press release.

Raby said he has visited 30-plus states in the U.S., but this will be his first time traveling abroad.

“I’ve had my passport for a while, and I can now actually use it,” he said.

Both students will arrive back in the United States in August, shortly before they are expected to be back ASMSA for their senior years. They both said that while the program will take up the majority of their summer break the trips will be worth it and their families have been very supportive.

“She is certainly happy that I have the opportunity to do this, but it’s a bittersweet moment too because I only have so much time at home left. But she loves that I’m going out of my way to do exceptional things,” Raby said about his mother.

Nester said his main concern is not being able to work on college essays and applications.

“Hopefully I’ll get to work on that some in Korea. It will be hard to be away from friends and family that long, but it’s worth it for me,” he said.

Applications for the 2019-20 NSLI-Y program are expected to be available late this summer at

« Back to News Archives

Upcoming Events


Prospective Students:

Click Here if you'd like to receive more information about ASMSA or have questions regarding the school and/or the admissions process.