Critical Language Scholarship Program | Baltazar Hernandez
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Baltazar Hernandez

Bal­tazar Her­nan­dez is an alum­nus of the 2017 CLS Russ­ian pro­gram in Vladimir, Rus­sia. Bal­tazar grew up in Chan­dler, Ari­zona and com­plet­ed a bachelor’s degree pro­gram in pub­lic pol­i­cy and busi­ness at Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty. In 2017, Bal­tazar interned at the Con­gres­sion­al Research Ser­vice in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. He now works as a cen­ter coor­di­na­tor at School of Pol­i­tics & Glob­al Stud­ies at his alma mater. In his free time, Bal­tazar enjoys enjoy read­ing about his­to­ry, attend­ing con­certs, spend­ing time with his fam­i­ly, and explor­ing new restau­rants in Phoenix.

Build­ing New Friend­ships
I am from a bilin­gual Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can house­hold in Chan­dler, Ari­zona, and am also the first male in my fam­i­ly to grad­u­ate from col­lege. When I applied for the CLS Pro­gram, I had con­cerns because I felt like I did not stand a chance in a com­pet­i­tive pool of nation-wide appli­cants. How­ev­er, after par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram, I real­ized the unique oppor­tu­ni­ties arose for me because of my dual Mex­i­can and Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty. I com­mu­ni­cat­ed with peo­ple of a dif­fer­ent cul­ture, con­front­ed stereo­types and oth­er assump­tions, and tol­er­at­ed polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences. I broke bread and shared laughs with the many new friends I made through the CLS Pro­gram expe­ri­ence. You can cre­ate so many new friend­ships with fel­low lan­guage learn­ers as well as native speak­ers of Russ­ian dur­ing the program.

Wind­ing Road of Accul­tur­a­tion
While liv­ing with a Russ­ian host fam­i­ly, I was often in sit­u­a­tions where my actions did not meet my host mother’s expec­ta­tion of being refined” based on local ways and cus­toms. I learned that accul­tur­at­ing is not a lin­ear process and, despite cor­rec­tive actions, I still faced many chal­lenges to inte­grate into the local cul­ture. Nev­er­the­less, I had oppor­tu­ni­ties to hold in-depth con­ver­sa­tion about pol­i­tics with my host mom and even though we often had dif­fer­ing views and some­times could not achieve mutu­al under­stand­ing, I learned that we could still live togeth­er under one roof as long as we respect­ed each other’s norms. 

Pub­lic Trans­port Chron­i­cles
Nav­i­gat­ing a new city can be chal­leng­ing: I expe­ri­enced an exten­sive series of pub­lic trans­port hic­cups. I almost missed a train, did not have the exact fare, got off on the wrong stop, and on one morn­ing expe­ri­enced a 1+ hour delay on the way to school. The great­est les­son I learned from these instances was not to pan­ic. I learned to stay vig­i­lant regard­ing my sur­round­ings, too. At the end of each episode of lost and found in the city’, I grew more famil­iar with my envi­ron­ment and became more pro­fi­cient in using pub­lic trans­port sys­tem, just like every­one else using it!

Reward­ing Expe­ri­ence
I would encour­age stu­dents at any lev­el to learn Russ­ian. In the age of glob­al­iza­tion, knowl­edge of Russ­ian is a great advan­tage. Russ­ian has helped me to cre­ate rela­tion­ships with oth­ers who rec­og­nize the impor­tance of cross-cul­tur­al under­stand­ing and exchange. Learn­ing Russ­ian, with all of the language’s gram­mat­i­cal com­plex­i­ties, was a fun and reward­ing expe­ri­ence for me.


Alumni Profiles

Baltazar Hernandez
Baltazar Hernandez
Russian 2017
Vladimir, Russia

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Posted Date

July 23, 2018