Noah Raby of Newport currently attends Arkansas School for Math and Science in Hot Springs. He and a fellow classmate are spending part of their summer break in Asia as participants in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. Noah will be a senior when he returns to school in the fall. During his trip, Noah is studying Mandarin Chinese in Chengdu, China. The initiative encourages students to spend six weeks studying a critical language in an intense immersive program.
During his time abroad, Noah lives and studies the Mandurian language at a school in his host city. Another opportunity to learn more about the language and culture includes the experience of living with a host family. According to the school website, the program’s goals include enhancing cross-cultural understanding and deepening trust, sparking a lifetime of interest in foreign language and culture, developing the skills to advance international dialogue, the ability to compete effectively in the global marketplace and contribute to a more peaceful world.
Raby is part of approximately 670 other students who are studying Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Indonesian or Russian this summer, according to a bureau press release. The bureau received more than 3,300 applications from across the United States. This is Noah’s first time abroad. Noah is quoted saying “I’ve had my passport for a while, and I can now actually use it.” He will return to the United States next month, before school starts for his senior year.
Raby has “a little bit of an advantage” when he arrives in China. He took the Mandarin I class offered at ASMSA during his junior year. He decided to take Mandarin because it is useful for another topic of interest for him — computer science and technology. “I feel languages are up my alley,” Raby said. “I’m not quite so nervous. It’s comforting to know more Chinese than many English speakers. Your host family may not be perfect in English, so I want to speak in Chinese as much as I can.”
Raby left for New York City on June 26 to prepare for his trip. In New York City, he attended sessions held by the initiative’s sponsor, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Noah Raby is the son of Jennifer Raby, Angie Lawson and the late Jerry Raby, and the nephew of Starla Raby and David Raby. Jennifer was excited at the opportunity awarded to Noah, but has always known Noah was going to do exceptional things.