Though only in his sophomore year at Washington & Jefferson College, Andrew Donatelli is getting an enviable exposure to world cultures.
Last year, through the college’s Magellan Project, a research scholarship program where students can apply to receive funding that helps them study anywhere that interests them, he explored the chocolate industry in Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.
During W&J’s intersession this year, a three-week period between the Christmas holiday and start of the spring semester, he spent several weeks in Africa in the countries of Senegal and Gambia. This spring, he will study at the University of Vienna in Austria thanks to a $2,500 scholarship award granted by the German American Business Circle of Pittsburgh.
A German and International Studies double major, Donatelli is the fourth W&J student to win the award over the past four years.
“I think this shows the high quality and caliber of students that are attracted to W&J and our German program,” said Judith Atzler, an assistant professor and chair of W&J’s German program.
Donatelli, of South Park, applied for the award in October, which included writing an essay, providing at least two letters of recommendation, showing proof of enrollment at an accredited University in a German speaking country and filling out general personal and school information.
“I believe I was in my dorm room when I received the email that I’d won the scholarship,” he said. “I was elated because this money will allow me to travel to other parts of Europe during my semester abroad. After I read the email, I immediately called my parents and they were excited as well.”
Of the four study abroad programs available to German students, one is a yearlong stay in Munich. Donatelli eliminated Munich because of its yearlong requirement. Another is available in Berlin, but it’s a more business-oriented program that isn’t as germane to what he is studying.
The third program is in Cologne, a city in which he already spent part of his Magellan experience and discovered he didn’t like. The fourth option was Vienna.
“I’ve heard only good things about Vienna and have never been there, so I thought I would try out their program,” he said. “After talking with Dr. Atzler and a student who studied in Vienna last spring, I knew that Vienna would be the best fit for me.”
Donatelli was fortunate to get funding from W&J for his airfare and housing. The scholarship will cover his food and travel costs to visit other European countries. He said he hopes to go to at least 10 other countries besides Austria while he’s in Europe from late February until early July.
“Italy, Norway, Slovenia and Slovakia are some of my top choices,” he said.
When asked about his experiences in Africa this January he said life is very different there than in America and that he learned to be grateful for what he has.
“The most enlightening experience I had was when I did a homestay in a local village,” he said. “I was paired with a 16-year-old boy and stayed overnight at his home. There was no running water, electricity, bathroom, utensils for food, or WiFi. I since learned not to take anything I have for granted. Simple items such as a pencil mean so much to children there. I never realized how privileged I was until I went there.”
As to a future career, Donatelli said he has a dream of working for a government agency, such as the CIA, as a foreign language analyst.
Although he would like to continue his dream of working for a government agency where he can use his foreign language skills every day, an alternate idea came to him this year after tutoring students in German — becoming a German teacher.
“I would like to apply for a Fulbright award to teach English in Germany for a year,” he said. “I could then go to graduate school and get my master’s degree in teaching. I’m hoping that my semester in Vienna will give me more clarity on which career path I want to take.”