A recent Nogales High School graduate is getting ready to spend her summer in South Korea, where she will develop her Korean language skills and learn about Korean culture.

Brandy Perez was accepted into the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth program, launched in 2006 to promote language learning among American youth. NSLI-Y summer programs last six to seven weeks, and Perez is set to join a program in Songdo, South Korea.

Perez said she has always been interested in foreign languages and cultures, and her specific interest in East Asia began when her older sister introduced her to Japanese animation known as anime. From there, she began listening to pop music from Japan and Korea known as J-pop and K-pop and developing a broader interest in the language and culture.

“Since then I wanted to go to Korea and learn even a little bit of Korean, so thanks to this program I was able to do just that,” she wrote in an email.

Her involvement with NSLI-Y began last year when she was admitted into a fall program that involved a virtual 10-week course in the Korean language.

Lately, she said, she’s been brushing up on her Korean skills in preparation for her summer abroad. And she said she’s especially excited to have the opportunity after the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to a lot of international travel.

When she returns to the United States, Perez will begin her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, where she’ll join the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU West as part of the Barrett Honors College. She plans to major in forensic science and minor in Korean.

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