Gift for language, connection to culture

UND undergrad parlays love of words into prestigious communication scholarship

Curtis Longtime Sleeping

UND senior Curtis Longtime Sleeping has been awarded a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship to study in Korea. Photo by Shawna Schill.

Curtis Longtime Sleeping is a language buff.

The communication senior spent last spring in Japan, learning Japanese on a competitive Gilman Scholarship. When he returned to UND, friends from Korea asked him why he didn’t study abroad in Korea.

This summer, he will.

Longtime Sleeping has been awarded a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship to study in Korea. Even more competitive than the Gilman, the Critical Language Scholarship is awarded to fewer than 10 percent of applicants. It supports students who spend eight weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages.

The Critical Language Scholarship is one of the most prestigious language programs in the nation. Longtime Sleeping will be just one of 27 students in the nation who will learn Korean this summer.

“I can’t think of a reason not to study languages,” he said, adding that he’s taking Chinese and French in the fall. He was the only UND student to study abroad in Japan last year, and spent Spring Break in Germany.

Worldwide friendships

“I have friends around the world,” Longtime Sleeping said. “They speak Dutch, French, Japanese, English. I enjoy studying cultures and like to converse with friends in their language. If friends do that honor for me, I’d like to reciprocate.”

A Browning, Mont., native and member of the Blackfeet Nation, Longtime Sleeping enjoys being exposed to various cultures, and is an ambassador for American Indian Student Services and a member of Japan Club and the Korean Culture Exchange Club.

He likes to stay busy. “Life wouldn’t be fun if it was easy,” he said.

He works at the Center for Rural Health as a communication assistant, has worked at the North Dakota Museum of Art since he was a freshman, and is also a tour guide for UND Admissions. He credits the Museum for developing his appreciation seeking out new opportunities and developing new interests.

“I wasn’t at all interested in art when I started working at the Museum,” he said. “I’m still not sure if I’d call myself an art person, but each time I travel make sure to visit a museum. Museums are cultural hubs and there is so much one can learn from spending a little time in an art gallery.”

Curtis Longtime Sleeping

A Browning, Mont., native and member of the Blackfeet Nation, Longtime Sleeping enjoys being exposed to various cultures, and is an ambassador for American Indian Student Services and a member of Japan Club and the Korean Culture Exchange Club. Photo by Shawna Schill.

Spanning boundaries

He was first introduced to UND through the INMED (Indians Into Medicine) program, and attended their Summer Institutes from 2007 to 2009. “I thought I would be a doctor, but science wasn’t for me,” he said. He is still involved with INMED, and takes part in the Seven Generations Center of Excellence tribal ambassador program, advocating for UND’s health science programs when he returns to his hometown and encouraging students to pursue opportunities in higher education.

“I’d like to see more Native students involved in international programs and study abroad,” he said. “I like to talk about study abroad when I go home. It opens worlds that students don’t realize are there. You can go anywhere in the world. It’s good to go outside your comfort zone.”

Moving forward

“My experience at UND has definitely been positive,” Longtime Sleeping said. “I learned so much from my time here, and now it is time to take all I’ve learned and move forward.”

After graduating in December, he hopes to teach English in Korea through the Fulbright program, and then earn his doctorate. He’d one day like to head diversity and inclusion programs at a university.

“As an American Indian, I’ve spent my life walking between cultural boundaries,” he said. “I want to create mutual understanding between cultures. We can all work on this together.”

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