Closing the learning gap in Uruguay with Fulbrighter Nicolas Albertoni Gómez
Nicolas Albertoni Gómez is a Fulbright scholar who recently graduated from the Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is very passionate about his home country, Uruguay, and is committed to creating socio-economic change when he returns after graduation.
“A lot of people ask: why did you got to the United States to study Latin America?” Fulbright scholar, Nicolas Albertoni Gómez, shares. “I respond to them: going away gives you perspective.”
Currently a student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Albertoni is working towards a master’s degree in Latin American Studies with a Certificate in International Business Diplomacy, in hopes of one day closing the socio-economic divide in his home country of Uruguay. It’s a goal that he has been pursing for many years, through both education and volunteer work.
After graduating with a degree in international business from the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, Albertoni decided to take some time before pursuing a higher degree to gain firsthand experience, believing that he must first learn what tools are needed to end poverty in Uruguay before going back to school. He participated in a catholic missionary in Uruguay, traveling to rural areas to help those in need (Learn more about this Jesuits missionary in Uruguay visit: http://mision-sfj.org/), and later went to work as a high school teacher in one of Uruguay’s poorest neighborhoods.
“It was about a one-hour bus trip from home to my work,” Albertoni explains. As he traveled, farther away from developed communities and closer to neglected ones, Albertoni began to realize the true source of his country’s poverty: a lack of socio-economic integration. Due to these communities’ isolation, many people do not see the social divisions and therefore are unaware that there is even an issue.
“It’s so important for people to work together, to integrate, in order to end social challenges,” Albertoni states.
“The most important thing about Laspau is that you gain a network. We are a group of people trying to change the world.
Upon this realization, Albertoni applied for the Fulbright scholarship and, after being selected, began to apply for universities in the United States with the help of Laspau. He felt it important to gain an international perspective, to see how other countries handle social and economic issues similar to those he had witnessed in Uruguay. By attending Georgetown University, Albertoni is gaining, not only the tools needed to address the socio-economic divide in Uruguay, but also a network of like-minded individuals.
“The most important thing about Laspau is that you gain a network. We are a group of people trying to change the world,” Albertoni emphasizes. He also emphasizes a shared Jesuit mission among him and his fellow students: a passion for others.
“There is this idea that if you are in academia, you are not involved in the real world. That is not true. You need more concepts to understand the real world. You need the tools to solve real world problems… Being at Georgetown has really solidified my Jesuit perspective of the world of working for others. I really think that all I do is for others… My education is not to put in books; it’s to put in life.”
Although still in school, Albertoni has already been making an impact in Uruguay. Three years ago, he and a group of friends started “Enseña Uruguay,” an organization committed to closing the learning gap by improving education in schools throughout Uruguay. Since its establishment, the organization has grown to be one of the most important NGOs in Uruguay and is part of the world network Teach for All.
“It’s something I’m very proud of and am trying to actively involved in,” Albertoni says.
But Albertoni isn’t stopping there. He will soon be moving to California to earn a PhD in political science and international relations from University of Southern California. From there, Albertoni hopes to return to the Catholic University to work as a professor. He also has as an ultimate goal entering into politics. He believes that by combining academia with public policies, he will be able to make real social change in Uruguay.
When asked what advice he would give to other ambitious students looking to improve their countries, Albertoni answered, “we should not talk about social problems, but work in order to solve them. If I do not have the necessary tools to do this, I will create my own. For this, we need to dream big and internationally so you can create your own tools.”