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Nicholas Cicchinelli ’14 wins Fulbright to teach in Moldova

Nicholas Cicchinelli ’14 has been thinking about the Fulbright since he was a freshman. Now he will get the chance to see firsthand what all the buzz is about when he heads to Moldova this fall on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Cicchinelli, a double major in Russian studies and international relations, has been interested in Eastern Europe since he began studying the Russian language in high school.

“I thought it was a really unique and interesting option for a foreign language,” said Cicchinelli, who comes from Albany, N.Y. “I had a series of really great teachers who encouraged me to participate in student exchanges and to study abroad. Through these experiences, I’ve found that developing personal relationships is the best way to make connections across cultures. It’s important to study international issues in the classroom, but you learn the most when you live and work with people and really get a feel for what life is like for them.”

Even before his first trip abroad, Cicchinelli was making global connections. The summer after his sophomore year at Wheaton, he interned at the Albany-Tula Alliance, a nonprofit organization that arranges educational, business and cultural exchanges between his hometown of Albany, N.Y. and its sister city, Tula, Russia. As a junior, Cicchinelli spent nine months abroad studying at the CV Starr-Middlebury School in Moscow and took short trips to several former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Latvia. These visits added to his interest in teaching and exploring the region.

“As someone who studies all aspects of Russian history and culture, I am intrigued by Moldova’s situation and position within the post-Soviet world, and the nation’s unique blend of Romanian and Slavic influences that bring together multiple ethnic, political, cultural and linguistic identities together in one country,” Cicchinelli wrote in his Fulbright essay.

After sharing his plans with Professor of Sociology A. Javier Trevino, Cicchinelli was further encouraged by Trevino’s fascinating stories from his Fulbright experience in Moldova in 2009.

“I see this as a really valuable opportunity to get field experience working abroad,” Cicchinelli said. “I want to continue improving my Russian language skills and also to learn about Moldovan life and culture, to give me some international perspective that will help me in my future career.”

After graduation, Cicchinelli plans to pursue a career in international relations, with a focus on human rights law and diplomacy. A recipient of the Boren Study Abroad Scholarship, he will complete one year of work with the U.S. government to satisfy the scholarship’s service requirement.

While at Wheaton, Cicchinelli has held leadership roles in the LGBTQA Alliance, Russian Club and Interfaith Alliance and has served on the Student Government Intercultural Board. He has also worked as a global education peer advisor and a Russian peer tutor. He is a recipient of the Elizabeth B. Vitton '85 Wheaton Fund Scholarship and the Wheaton College Regional Scholarship and he recently received the Prudence G. Lusky Memorial Award in Russian Studies during the 2014 Honors Convocation.