SM East sophomore tapped for prestigious National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship in China

Matthew Trecek. Photo via Twitter.
Matthew Trecek. Photo via Twitter.

An SM East sophomore is among a select group of just 30 from across the country chosen to advance their language study through a summer program in China.

Matthew Trecek, 16, learned this spring that he was one of 600 American students to earn a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship. The program places American students in programs to learn Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, or Turkish abroad.

Matthew has been studying Chinese for two years at SM East, and says he’s been intrigued by how different it is from more-common foreign languages.

“I like how interesting and different Chinese is compared to the other languages I see my friends studying, like Spanish and French,” he said. “It is challenging, but as I study it further, it’s becoming easier.”

His teacher at SM East, Hau-In Lau, said he showed a quick talent in the language, and that his demeanor has let him excel at an early age.

“Matthew is a self-motivated young man who is consistent and dedicated about learning,” Lau said. “He rose to the top in his beginning Chinese class shortly after the first quarter of his freshman year. He has demonstrated good understanding of the elements and features of the Chinese language while many of his peers struggled to comprehend.”

Trecek will be in China for six weeks over the summer with the program, with five weeks in Xiamen and another week reserved for travel.

“I have never been to China before, and I think I am most excited to see the difference between how people live there compared to how we live in America,” he said.