Critical Language Scholarship Program | Janet Purdy
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Janet Purdy

My CLS expe­ri­ence sent me in an entire­ly new direc­tion of learn­ing and research. I am now a schol­ar of East Africa and the Indi­an Ocean.”

When Janet start­ed to study art his­to­ry, she was pri­mar­i­ly focused on West and Cen­tral Africa. After learn­ing that her uni­ver­si­ty offered Swahili class­es, she became more inter­est­ed in link­ing East African art his­to­ry with learn­ing the lan­guage, which moti­vat­ed her to apply for the first CLS Pro­gram insti­tute in Swahili in 2016

Although Janet was old­er than many of her class­mates, the CLS Program’s focus on immer­sive lan­guage learn­ing was exact­ly what she need­ed to sup­port her grad­u­ate work. Since then, she has been back to East Africa over sev­en times with the Ful­bright Pro­gram and to con­duct inde­pen­dent research in art his­to­ry and cul­tur­al traditions. 

CLS has had the hugest impact on my career and my life. I will always be grate­ful for the pro­gram and the chance to learn about Tan­zan­ian culture.”

Janet was a Ful­bright schol­ar from 20182019 in Zanz­ibar, Tan­za­nia and returned to the Unit­ed States to fin­ish her dis­ser­ta­tion for her Ph.D. in Art His­to­ry. In part due to her lan­guage skills, cul­tur­al expe­ri­ences, and the con­nec­tions she has made since the CLS Pro­gram, she was offered a three-year post-doc fel­low­ship with the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Post­doc­tor­al Cura­to­r­i­al Fel­low­ship in African Art at the Art Insti­tute of Chicago.

Janet presents at an art history colloquium in 2019

Janet has con­nect­ed with artists and art his­to­ri­ans all across East Africa, and cred­its her intro­duc­tion to East Africa to her expe­ri­ence on the CLS Pro­gram. She fre­quent­ly speaks to her col­leagues abroad about the Unit­ed States and tells them about the diver­si­ty of Amer­i­can cul­ture. She is also pas­sion­ate about shar­ing her expe­ri­ences in East Africa with those in the Unit­ed States who are unfa­mil­iar with East African cul­ture and languages.

One of the great­est ben­e­fits that I gained from my time with CLS was learn­ing how to become a bet­ter glob­al citizen.”

As she con­tin­ues her work in the arts in East Africa, she is grate­ful for the guid­ance and sup­port of her Swahili teach­ers from the CLS Pro­gram who shaped her first expe­ri­ence on the African continent.


Alumni Profiles

Janet Purdy
Janet Purdy
Swahili 2016
Arusha, Tanzania

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Posted Date

December 13, 2019