Caleb DeShazer

Caleb DeShazer, an 18-year-old Desert Edge High School graduate, has a meal with his host family in South Korea. He spent the summer there studying the language and culture.

Recent Desert Edge High School graduate Caleb DeShazer will soon return home from 45-day stint studying in South Korea through a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship. 

The initiative is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “As a cultural experience, it’s amazing.”

Selected from more than 3,300 applications from across the United States, DeShazer is studying Korean at EWHA Women’s University, living with a host family and experiencing the local culture. 

The 18-year-old Goodyear resident’s days are full.

After his classes, he grabs lunch. One of his favorite meals is cheese tonkatsu, meat that is deep fried with cheese. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he visits cafes, arcades, monuments or palaces with friends. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he meets with his “supporters,” who are Korean college students who help educate him. 

“The meetings are very useful and last about two hours,” he said.

On Fridays, he attends culture class, where he learns drumming, taekwondo, cooking or traditional dance. 

“I chose dance, so every Friday at 2:30 p.m., we go out and practice our dance at a studio for two hours,” DeShazer said. 

After his required events, he is free to do as he likes until curfew — 9:30 p.m. on the weekdays, 11 p.m. on the weekends. 

“One of my favorite activities is going sightseeing with friends,” he said. “For example, recently I went to Namsan Tower, a prominent attraction in Seoul.”

DeShazer said he’s surprised by a number of things in Korea, namely careless motorcycle drivers, the humidity and children’s freedom.

“At midnight, sometimes kids are still outside playing by themselves,” said DeShazer, who is interested in Korean music, media and pop culture. 

DeShazer will move to Washington, D.C., to study political science and Korean at George Washington University on August 26. He hopes to attend law school and become a defense attorney.

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, to advance international dialogue and increase American economic global competitiveness. 

Applications for 2020-21 NSLI-Y programs are expected to be available at nsliforyouth.org in the late summer. The U.S. Department of State conducts study abroad programs for over 1,000 American high school students and approximately 3,000 foreign high school students each year.