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Graduate Helps Georgetown Engage with Latin America

Alejandro Gonzalez

Alejandro González (SFS’12) gives a hug to the students he taught before his sophomore year at Georgetown during a summer abroad in rural Las Guabas, Panama. He continues his work in Latin America, personally and professionally.

August 14, 2012 – As Georgetown moves to expand its ties with Latin America, it has a friend in Alejandro González (SFS’12).

His first major project after landing a job with strategic advisory company, the Montero Group, was to work with Georgetown on its Latin American Engagement Strategy.

“Our firm works with Georgetown to expand initiatives in Latin America,” says González, who recently traveled to Brazil with President John J. DeGioia, members of the university’s Latin American board, faculty and alumni.

Georgetown's Latin American initiatives include numerous academic and research partnerships, leadership development programs and institutional exchanges of ideas and learning.

Building Relations

A native of Cuba who moved to Miami as a child, González says his work with the Montero Group is an extension of his student work to build relations and networks between entities in the United States and parts of Latin America.

He spent the summer after his first year of college teaching children, pre-K through sixth grade, in the rural town of Las Guabas, Panama, through Learning Enterprises.  

The Washington, D.C.-based, student-run nonprofit sends American college students to teach English and other skills all over the world.

Promoting Citizenship

“I taught … English, but I also taught them about the importance of protecting the environment, about citizenship and thinking outside of the box,” he says.

He also got involved in Georgetown’s D.C. Schools Project, teaching Latino students English creating a naturalization class.

“Beyond teaching them English, I thought it was important to make the community feel a bigger part of the whole,” he says. “[The naturalization component was] a concrete way of people becoming aware.”

Recognized Scholar

González created programs that provided cell phones and USB drives to youth in his native country.

“It was a way of giving the youth materials they normally wouldn’t have access to,” he says.

This past spring, González was among 20 seniors recognized for their commitment to community service by receiving the Landegger Community Service Award.

He also was part of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, which provides resources and support to all deserving students based on financial need.

Catholic Formation Centers

González has specific concerns about young people in Cuba.

“Because they’ve grown up in a system that has said ‘no’ ‘no’ and ‘no,’ there are limited dreams and aspirations among them,” he says. “It’s very different from the youth here, where everyone has big dreams, desire and drive.”

González visits his family in Cuba at least once a year and also goes back for service-oriented trips, where he’s done work with Catholic formation centers in the area.

The centers have computer classes for youth and adults, English classes, marketing and ethics and economics.

Moral Backbone

“This helps in creating a moral backbone for youth and future generations that is so necessary,” he says. “The regime will change, that’s inevitable, but what comes after is, in my opinion, more worrisome if young people aren’t given access to resources and opportunities outside of the country.”

González is hoping to one day create a program that brings U.S. students to the Catholic formation centers to work with youth and adults in Cuba.

“This is probably my most personal and important project because I am Cuban, and it is the most concrete way that I can contribute to the land that I came from,” he says. “It will forever be my home.”

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