Pingree School student Alex Moldovean ‘25 of Wenham has been awarded a 2023–2024 National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) merit scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. This highly competitive scholarship program provides opportunities for American high school students to learn critical foreign languages and gain a deeper understanding of other cultures. Alex is one of only 14 students nationwide slated to participate in the immersive Indonesian language program. His selection for this prestigious scholarship is a testament to his intellectual curiosity and hard work.
A true polyglot, Alex’s passion for languages is “unmatched,” according to his teachers. He was raised bilingual, speaking English with his mother and Romanian with his father; became fluent in French thanks to a temporary move to Sancerre, France, when he was in kindergarten; and recently added Spanish proficiency to his quiver of languages. Alex travels whenever possible, and he most recently visited India over March break.
As a program participant, Alex will spend the summer in Indonesia living in a family homestay, studying Bahasa (Indonesian) language, and immersing himself in the local culture. The program provides participants with intensive language instruction, cultural activities, and opportunities to interact with local residents. “I could not necessarily pick the location, but I wanted to be somewhere where I could live a completely new lifestyle for a short time. I chose Bahasa because I wanted to experience something completely different, a challenge beyond what Turkish or Russian [two other NSLI-Y programs] would provide since they’re so close to Romanian. Bahasa uses the Latin alphabet, so I don’t think it will be too hard to learn,” Alex explained. “Indonesia is an Islamic country where religion plays a big role in its society. Growing up Romanian/Ukrainian Orthodox, in a predominantly Christian community, I never deeply understood Islam. Experiencing this for six weeks will be something completely new for me.”
“Alex is a student who is so kind and easy-going, it is easy to miss his incredibly sharp intellect and broad range of talents. This NSLI-Y program in Indonesia is yet another example of Alex, the talented student, athlete, and musician continuing to branch out and enrich himself and the world around him,” said Peter Albert, technology educator at Pingree School and Alex’s advisor. “His dedication and passion for learning despite his already impressive background give me great hope that yet another Pingree community member will eventually go on to make a great impact in the world.”
The NSLI-Y program is designed to encourage young Americans to develop language skills and cultural awareness that will prepare them for future leadership roles in government, business, and academia. As for Alex’s future plans, they remain in flux. “I have a strong passion for languages and a fervent love for understanding other cultures and finding common ground. I have always considered myself a STEM-lopsided student but over the past two years, I have discovered a new passion for history and furthered my passion for languages with the help of some great Pingree teachers,” he shared.
“For me, NSLI-Y is an opportunity to understand the world a bit better. I plan to take what I learn back to my community and share it with others so they can understand, too. I hope that by exchanging cultural experiences, I can broaden my understanding of the world and be one step in the right direction toward transcending boundaries. I love learning languages with people: the different sounds, word nuances, the thrill of communicating, of putting a stranger at ease because we can understand each other!”