Alumni Profile: World Traveler and Fulbrighter

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.

Kevin Morales
CIEE Program Term:
Fall 2016
Home School: Fordham University
Major: Economics and International Relations

In Fall 2016 Kevin arrived in Moscow with self-taught Russian, a love of ballet (from his time as a professional ballroom dancer), and an interest in a career in the foreign service. Kevin was accepted as an intern at the US Embassy's American Center, where he hosted a weekly debate club for Russian patrons. On returning home, he graduated, worked for a year at a law firm in New York City, and then set out for six months of world travel. Kevin is currently serving as a Fulbright English Language Assistant in Perm, Russia.

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

My time at MGIMO was full of great friendships and professors, memories I’ll cherish for a lifetime, and provided clarity in the kind of work and profession I hope to pursue. I had long wanted to work in the U.S. Foreign Service by the time I set foot on campus, and the opportunity to learn from career diplomats with such rich and varied experiences in the field was rewarding and insightful. I am, today, living and working in Perm, Russia as a Fulbright scholarship grantee — an opportunity brought to my attention by an MGIMO teacher.

While a student in Moscow, I also interned at the U.S. Embassy. I was responsible for leading large groups in discussions of current affairs, and delivering presentations on various aspects of American life. The platform I had at the embassy’s American Center served as a great training ground for fostering mutual understanding between people of different nations, which is itself the central aim of Fulbright. I experienced a lot of growth while abroad at MGIMO; from my interactions with classmates and patrons of the American Center I learned of the value in international relations, from my travels outside of Moscow I learned of the value of diversity, of traditions and of thought, and finally, my time abroad, enveloped in a foreign culture, helped me develop a deeper and more profound appreciation for the United States.

What was your most memorable experience in Moscow?

I have many great memories from time as a student in Moscow, but the one which stands out as the most memorable would have to be my family’s visit during the holiday season. To be the one introducing my family to the Russian culture, to guide them around the city, and to introduce them to my favorite places and closest friends was all very rewarding. My newfound CIEE family invited us all to a Thanksgiving dinner; it was a night filled with great food and loud laughter, and to share such a vivid memory of my time abroad with those closest to me was an incredible experience.

 Can you give one piece of advice to future CIEE Moscow students?

Make the most of it! Whether you're studying abroad for a semester or a year, the time will pass you by quicker than expected. Join clubs and other activities that interest you at your university, take part in an internship, travel as much as you can, and try your hardest to end your time abroad feeling that you’ve left no opportunity unclaimed.

With travel and with living abroad come some very real challenges — be conscious of what you need in order to make you feel at your best. For me, that meant having a close group of friends with which to explore my new city — that helped me feel more at home in my new environment — for you, it may be something entirely different.

What was your favorite class at MGIMO?

My favorite class at MGIMO was Dr. Lysenko’s International Law class. It was a class that always sparked interesting conversations, and one which forced me to think creatively on how best to approach the challenges which communities beyond national boundaries face. I’ve recently applied to law school in the U.S., and while I’m not sure precisely which area of law I would like to practice, I feel that Dr. Lysenko’s class gave me an idea of how great lawyers approach any challenge.

 

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