Alumni Profile: CIEE Moscow Pioneer

Authored by:
Nancy Kogin

In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of CIEE's Moscow Business and International Relations program at MGIMO, we checked in with several program alumni to learn what they've been up to since their time in Moscow and asked them to reflect on their experience.

Ian Rohr
CIEE Program Term: Fall 2014
Home School: Tulane Univeristy
Major: International Relations and Russian (with a minor in Economics)

In the CIEE Moscow world, Ian is a pioneer. Not only was he in the first CIEE cohort in Moscow (Fall 2014), but he was also the first CIEE student to join the MGIMO choir. After completing the Moscow program, he went on to receive the competitive State Department Critical Language Scholarship and spent the summer of 2015 studying Russian in Nizhny Novgorod. While still an undergraduate, he received a State Department grant to support the Russian Conversation Club at Tulane and completed a summer internship as an international relations analyst at the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He is currently completing a master's program in Statecraft and International Affairs at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC.

How did your study abroad experience help you get where you are today?

First, it helped me expand my knowledge of Russian foreign policy and US-Russian relations. Additionally, my Russian language skills improved tremendously. The experience I gained in Moscow inspired me to continue to study Russian language and policy further. My semester abroad in Moscow played a significant role in being accepted to the State Department-sponsored Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program. I studied Russian language through this program for 2 months in Nizhny Novgorod in summer 2015.

Advanced Russian language skills and knowledge of the region enabled me to conduct research using Russian-language sources, something that was highly beneficial when writing my undergraduate thesis on Russian Militarization in the Arctic and its role in Russian foreign policy. As someone who specializes in Russia/Eurasia, I can confirm that CIEE has an excellent program in Moscow.

Why did you choose the CIEE Moscow program at MGIMO?

I chose the CIEE program in Moscow because I was majoring in international relations and also studying Russian. During my freshman year at Tulane, I was looking for study abroad programs, and an advisor at Tulane's Study Abroad Office informed me that CIEE was starting a new Business + International Relations program at MGIMO and thought it would be a great fit based on what I was looking for. I researched the program further and concurred.

What was your favorite class at MGIMO?

“Conflicts in the Belt of Russia's New Borders.” I didn't realize all the conflicts that had occurred since the Soviet Union's collapse (e.g., Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria, Russian military intervention in Tajikistan's Civil War, Russian military intervention in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan's territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh). It gave me greater insight into the issues Eurasia faces. This course was also unique in that there were only 2 students: myself and another CIEE student from Colorado. This made lectures very personal, and we were able to develop a good rapport with our professor.

What was your most memorable experience in Moscow?

I had a lot of memorable experiences, so it's hard to pinpoint my most memorable one. My roommate, another American student from New Jersey in the CIEE program, and I joined the MGIMO Academic Choir. At that time the head of the choir was a Russian MGIMO student (student-run choir), and he knew the director of the choir at РГГУ. Both choirs ended up performing together. We went to rehearsals there 2-3 times a week. In early December we performed Sergei Prokofiev's “Alexander Nevsky.” Looking back, it's not everyday that an American student has the opportunity to sing in a choir in Moscow, and I am very grateful to have had that opportunity.

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