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Aiyelabowo ’19: Chinese Immersion Through CLS Scholarship


Ifeoluwa (Iffy) Aiyelabowo ’19 has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Languages scholarship to China.  A Chinese studies major with a business development concentration and government minor, Aiyelabowo will study in Dalian, China, this summer.

A week after Hamilton graduation, he will attend pre-orientation in Washington D.C. and then fly to China as a group. In Dalian (northeast China), “I will not only be learning Chinese in class daily, but I will also be immersed in the culture by living with a homestay family, participating in Chinese-culture oriented extracurricular activities after class, and in cultural excursions on the weekends,” said Aiyelabowo. 

After returning from China Aiyelabowo will start his career at Capco, a financial services consulting firm in New York City where he interned last summer. “Despite the fact that I will not have much time to relax this summer,” Aiyelabowo said, “I know that the time and energy that I will spend learning Chinese will be worth it when I become proficient in the language.” 

Aiyelabowo said his desire to learn Chinese relates to his background as the son of immigrant parents who came to America from Nigeria in the ’90s. Aiyelabowo’s father talked to him about issues concerning economic development in Nigeria and the African continent as a whole.

“These discussions concerning development and international affairs sparked my interest in these topics,” said Aiyelabowo. “I became particularly interested in the rise of China, a massive country with a seemingly ever-growing economy and military that is challenging American hegemony.

about Ifeoluwa Aiyelabowo ’19

Major: Chinese

Hometown: Queens, N.Y.

High School: Bard High School Early College

and: President of Hamilton Microfinance

more scholarship and fellowship recipients

The State Department created CLS and initiatives like it to “expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.”

Aiyelabowo said “This scholarship means a lot to me as it suggests those who reviewed my application at the State Department believe that I can use my Chinese language skills to contribute to the country’s security and prosperity. Contributing to such a cause is especially important today given the country's tense relationship with China.

“I hope to use the cultural and language skills that I will develop in CLS, as well as my passion for political and economic issues, to support the improvement of relations between China and the United States,” he said.

At Hamilton, Aiyelabowo is president of the Microfinance group, a student-run, micro-lending organization, and the Hamilton Consulting Group.  He previously studied abroad at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, Minzu University, Beijing, and the University of Manchester, England.

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