Densmore to study in Jordan

By By Dick Mason The Observer August 15, 2012 07:34 am

Samantha Densmore will never forget the feeling of euphoria. 

Densmore, a University of Oregon student from La Grande, was studying on campus when she received a once-in-a-lifetime e-mail, one with news that may forever shape her life story.

Densmore learned she had a received a coveted Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program. The scholarship will allow her to attend the University of Jordan in Amman for nine months in the 2012-13 academic year as an exchange student.

Densmore was not thinking about the exchange program when she received the email. Suddenly, though, it was all she could think about. 

“This is the most exciting thing that has happened to me,’’ said Densmore, a 2010 La Grande High School graduate who will leave for Jordan Sept. 1. 

The scholarship means that Densmore will be able to realize a dream.  

 “I have always known I wanted to study abroad,’’ she said.

Densmore will study at the CIEE Center for International Educational Exchanges at the University of Jordan. The center is for international students. Densmore will take classes on international relations, diplomacy and Arabic, Jordan’s primary language.

Densmore, who has studied Arabic the past two years at the University of Oregon, is excited about the prospect of living in a nation where the language is spoken. She said writing and reading Arabic is much easier than understanding the spoken version. 

“Speaking and listening is hard,’’ Densmore said.

She noted the sounds of the language are difficult for the untrained ear to distinguish.

Written right to left

Arabic is written from right to left, something Densmore jokes that she has become too accustomed to. 

“Sometimes after my Arabic classes I have caught myself writing from right to left (in English),’’ said Densmore, who is majoring in international studies.

Safety is a concern for anyone traveling to the Middle East. Densmore said, though, that she is not worried about living in Jordan since it is considered the most secure nation in the Middle East.

“It is very safe,’’ she said. 

The Syrian Civil War does pose a concern for Jordan. Densmore said some are worried that the war’s violence could spill over into Jordan, which is on the southern edge of Syria.

Densmore is the daughter of Gregg and Linda Densmore of Portland. The Densmores lived in La Grande for almost two decades years before moving to Portland earlier this year. Gregg Densmore is an orthopedic surgeon.

Samantha Densmore is one of only 161 students throughout the United States to be awarded a Boren Scholarship in 2012. A total of 1,014 undergraduates in the United States applied for the Boren Scholarship. The scholarship program is administered by the Institute of International Education and is sponsored by the National Security Education Program. 

In exchange for funding, Boren scholarship recipients agree to work in the federal government for a least one year not long after graduating from college. 

Those who received the Boren Scholarship are encouraged by National Security Education Program officials to find one-year jobs with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of State. 

Densmore will be delighted to have the opportunity to work for the federal government since her career goal is to work for the United States overseas. She said she believes this requirement will boost her chances of achieving this goal.

 “I want to work at a U.S. embassy abroad.’’