By Megan Bower ’20
There are many ways to describe Rudi Mucaj: passionate, goofy and knowledgeable are a few that classmate Chelsea Foster came up with. But a less common descriptive word is a polyglot.
The word originates from the Greek word “polyglotta,” which literally translates to “many tongue.” The senior from Fier, Albania, can speak a total of seven languages: Albanian, English, French, German, Italian, Latin and Spanish, but doesn’t boast about the achievement.
“No one likes a show off,” he said while chuckling. “I’ve been living in the Mennonite world for years, I’ve become modest.”
Mucaj was first introduced to Mennonites in 2012. He had applied for the Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) through the U.S. State Department, which would allow him to study in the United States for three months.
“It was just wanting to be an exchange student, trying a new experience and opportunity,” Mucaj said.
After taking three exams to be assessed and accepted into the program, Mucaj received an email from the organization asking if he would like to attend Iowa Mennonite School (IMS) and live in a small town Mennonite community.
“I had no idea what Iowa or Mennonites were, but I said yes and I went,” he said.
When Mucaj’s experience at IMS came to an end, he returned home to Albania for two years. But even after only three months, he felt part of the Mennonite community. Mucaj explained how by attending IMS he heard a lot about Goshen College. He applied to GC and Eastern Mennonite University, but ultimately decided to attend Goshen.
After less than a month into his first year, Mucaj had already changed his major from peace, justice and conflict studies to history. It was having a class with John D. Roth that influenced the switch.
“I was like ‘Yeah, I want to be like John when I grow up,’” he said.
Foster, a junior history major, explained how Mucaj’s passion about history is something she admires about him.
“He makes everyone recognize its importance,” she said. “He is so much fun to be around. He has definitely left his mark on GC.”
Now, preparing to walk at commencement, Mucaj will graduate with a pre-law minor along with his history major. After being accepted to the history program at Kent State University for graduate school, Mucaj decided to defer for a year to go to Washington D.C., to work for Habitat for Humanity as part of Mennonite Voluntary Service.
Mucaj explained that his two main reasons for deferring were to take a break from school and for the opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity. He explained that he’d be able to use his skills of research, writing and communication that he’d acquired over the four years and apply it to this work.
“It sounds like a very nice opportunity to help other people and it’s very related to my history major,” he said. “So that sounds like something I’d not only enjoy but it’s something I’ve been trained in.”
Further on in the future, Mucaj is considering many options.
Mucaj explained that there are hundreds of different things that he wants to do. One of them includes being the Prime Minister of Albania. He explained that this was his goal during high school. However, the desire had weakened and started to fade “with so much out there.” But he hasn’t totally ruled it out.
“I don’t know, maybe someday,” He said. “As if it’s up to me, if I decide I’ll just wake up one morning and be the Prime Minister of my country.”
He also sees law school as a possibility, along with teaching somewhere in Europe. However, he’s unsure about the prospect of committing to one location or country after gaining a love for traveling.
“I really like teaching history, so maybe I’ll become a university professor,” he said.
While he continues to contemplate a life of politics in Albania or teaching history, he admits to joking with friends about entering U.S., politics.
“I could be the third non-American-born Secretary of State,” he said. “The constitution doesn’t say you have to be American-born.”
While some seniors may collect their diploma with a clear future mapped out, Mucaj currently has too much excitement to commit to one path. “I’m still trying to figure out what I want to become when I grow up,” he said.