People: McLean Student to Study Russian on U.S. Department of State Scholarship

People: McLean Student to Study Russian on U.S. Department of State Scholarship


Alexander Joel

Alexander Joel, a rising high school senior at The Potomac School in McLean, was awarded a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) full-merit scholarship to study the Russian language in Moscow, Russia for five weeks. NSLI-Y is a program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) that promotes critical language learning among American youth. Alex, competitively selected from approximately 3,000 applicants from across the United States, is one of approximately 500 students who will study Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Russian, or Turkish this summer as part of the NSLI-Y Summer Intensive program. In response to the U.S. Department of State Global Level 4 Health Advisory, the overseas immersion program was converted to an online version this summer.

NSLI-Y is part of a multi-agency U.S. Government initiative launched in 2006 to improve Americans' ability to communicate in select critical languages, advance international dialogue, and provide Americans with jobs skills for the global economy. Many NSLI-Y alumni go on to pursue education and careers vital to U.S. national security and credit the program experience with helping them improve their academic, leadership, and cross-cultural communication skills.

In addition to pursuing his interest in international relations, Alex is politically active, working on state campaigns, and interning for a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Alex has been debating competitively since middle school and is the top ranked debater in Public Forum debate in Virginia. Alex and his brother, Ben, launched, a non-profit organization with 70+ online volunteer tutors who work with elementary students in eight states to help curb learning losses caused by the global pandemic.

In addition, Alex was recently named a Topical Winner of the 22nd Annual National High School Poetry Contest by the Live Poets Society.