By Jonathan Okanes
Cal Bear Blog
The evidence that Cal offensive lineman Bill Tyndall is ready for his semester abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia lies in his sleeping habits.
“One time he was dreaming and he was talking in his sleep in Russian,” said Cal long snapper Brandon Madueño, who is Tyndall’s roommate. “I told him I had no idea what he was saying last night.”
Tyndall’s interest in Russian coincides with his passion for international relations and intelligence. The senior from Pacific Grove is a Political Economy major who hopes to work for the state department someday and perhaps serve as an ambassador.
“I know that Russian is one of the high-priority languages for the government,” Tyndall said. “Being so, that’s the language that I chose. I’m doing an intensive language program in Russia, and hopefully when I come back I’ll be going to an intensive language program in grad school.”
Tyndall leaves for St. Petersburg at the end of January and will attend St. Petersburg State University. He will take three classes taught strictly in Russian – Russian Grammar, Conversational Russian as well as a politics class dealing with Russia’s transition from a communist to a democratic society.
Tyndall will also live with a Russian family that speaks little to no English.
“That should be interesting,” Tyndall said. “It’s a new culture and a completely different living situation.”
Tyndall said he arrived at Cal planning on becoming a teacher – his mother, Cathleen, is a retired preschool teacher – but the idea of politics and intelligence was always in the back of his mind. The Monterey Institute of International Studies, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, The Naval Postgraduate School and the Defense Language Institute are all located in the Monterey area near Pacific Grove.
Before attending Cal, Tyndall spent one year at Monterey Peninsula College. While there, he grew close to Dr. Richard Kezirian, a history professor who also is the Senior Program Coordinator at the Panetta Institute. Kezirian encouraged Tyndall to continue to pursue his interest in policymaking and intelligence.
“Bill relishes a life of the mind,” said Kezirian, who now works strictly at the Panetta Institute. “He’s also the kind of young man who values the attempt to attain wisdom. I picked that up easily from reading his papers. He always had an intellectual side.”
Still, Tyndall wasn’t sold on International Studies when he got to Berkeley. But he kept encountering signs that led him down that path.
One profound moment came when he opened up his first Russian text book during his sophomore year. Inside was a picture of an eight-pointed star, similar to one he used to consistently draw as early as first grade. He went on to find the star in every Russian text book he’s had at Cal.
“I started drawing this weird eight-pointed star, just doodling in class one day,” Tyndall said. “I used to just draw lines in class and eventually the lines just started connecting. Throughout my life, I’ve been drawing this star. When I got to college, I decided to take Russian. That star is all over my Russian book. That was my first kind of ‘ah-ha’ moment.”
Tyndall’s move toward politics and intelligence was strengthened after sifting through literature provided by Ron Coccimiglio, Cal football’s director of career development.
“There were about 40 careers listed and we were supposed to list our top three,” Tyndall said. “I’m going through it and it said ‘Government Intelligence.’ I went past it but then came back. I felt like there was something right about it.”
Tyndall says one of the reasons he’s attracted to international relations is because of his passion for negotiating. That’s one of the appealing traits of becoming an ambassador or working for the United Nations.
“I don’t really argue because I like to negotiate and I always find middle ground and diffuse situations,” Tyndall said. “I would like to be able to be a middle man between two countries in order to get things done, whether it be in the embassy or the state department.”
As his roommate, Madueño has witnessed Tyndall’s negotiating acumen.
“He’s not aggressive, but he’s assertive,” Madueño said. “There’s a bunch of things that happen here with paying the rent, utilities, groceries. With our other roommate, he always tries to make sure we add as much value to each side to see what’s truly fair. He’s very willing to hear the other side, whether it’s me or my other roommate.
“He’s just good with people. He’s good at expressing how he feels. He steps back and sees things from the other side.”
After he returns from Russia, Tyndall hopes to attend the prestigious Monterey Institute for International Studies and perhaps teach a class at Cal that educates student-athletes how to study abroad.
“There are all these little things that kind of lead me down the same path and lead to the same direction,” Tyndall said. “Since I’ve come to Cal and all this stuff keeps happening, I’m always looking for new things popping up to lead me down that path. As long as I stay proactive with everything and keep it on my mind, it’s been getting me closer and closer to my goal.”