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You Can Study International Relations or You Can Live It

Stefanie Senkow
December 8, 2021

LCDR Mike MoyseowiczNEW LONDON, Conn – This is anything but your typical study abroad program.

“It’s the best post-graduate program that is available in the military,” said LCDR Mike Moyseowicz.

It’s the Olmsted Scholar program, available to eligible Coast Guard officers. Scholars take up to one year of language training, and then move to a foreign country for two years while pursuing a post-graduate degree in liberal arts and taught in a foreign language. The Coast Guard joined the program in 2017.

“It’s a transformative, cultural immersion experience. Officers learn leadership lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom,” said Moyseowicz, who did his scholarship in Chengdu, China. “It takes you out of your comfort zone, forces you to adapt to a new way of life, and challenges you to look at the world through a new lens.”

While studying at a foreign university, Scholars realize that America is a foreign concept to many of their peers.

“When you are the only American sitting in an academic setting as soon as the topic turns to the United States heads turn and look at you. There’s this expectation for you to be America’s voice,” said Melissa Martinelli, a Scholar in Buenos Aries, Argentina. “You can’t understand until you’re in that moment. Being in these situations that are so beyond your comfort zone, you dig deep into places you haven’t been before. There’s growth there.”

Outside the classroom, Scholars are given an annual stipend to explore their counties and the surrounding regions. LCDR Keith Robinson studied in Florence, Italy and observed the contrast between fast-paced American life and the Italian culture.

“Things move a lot slower and there are no apologies for it,” said Robinson. “It forced me to evaluate where my priorities fit in. It made me take a step back and identify what’s really important,” said Robinson.

As an Olmsted Scholar, you’ll return from your experience as a changed individual.

“The Program is the most authentic way you confront what you take for granted on a daily basis,” said LCDR Rory Yoder, a Scholar in Zagreb, Croatia.

“What I found of most value was stripping away all the layers we have that we rely on—our culture, our language. It’s a very humbling process; it stretches you and pulls you in ways you haven’t experienced before. It changes the way you understand the world and how you react to people. It makes you a better leader and a better person,” said Martinelli.

“You can study international relations, or you can live it. This is the ultimate way to be a scholar of the world and apply what you learned to your service and in your life,” said Moyseowicz.

Learn more about the Olmsted Scholar Program.