By Jasmine Teran
Diplomacy & World Affairs

Alejo Maggini learned early on in his academic career that education can be a force for change. This has inspired the international student from Argentina to make the most of his time at Oxy, where education is at the center of his studies.

Alejo’s interest in the power of education was sparked during the life-changing experience of attending United World Colleges (UWC) in Maastricht, Netherlands. UWC is a global education movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures. There Alejo learned alongside students from around the globe, following the international baccalaureate curriculum.

“Each one of us has the ability to impact culture through the multiple facets of our identity: our language, our sexuality, our choices,” says Alejo. “These intersections can be powerful in giving agency to different communities.

“My academic work focuses on how education can be an effective medium for community empowerment through an identity politics approach,” he adds. “Inspired by my educational experiences in the United States, international baccalaureate in the Netherlands and the Argentinian national system, I am trying to bring my mission to the international sphere."

To better understand the educational system in the U.S., Alejo draws in context from a variety of disciplines. His major in diplomacy and world affairs (DWA) is supported by not only an education minor but two additional minors in economics and linguistics. All these approaches allow Alejo to understand the identity politics that shape our communities and social institutions.

“DWA teaches me about the international impact of the political work that I’m in love with, and linguistics illuminates not only the technical compositions of language but also the power that resides within sociolinguistic frameworks. I chose economics because it allows you to understand human behavior through the connections between economic theory and individual action.”

Unifying all four areas of study is Alejo’s passion for community building and conflict resolution.

“When communities engage in education, they discover the inherent capacity for change and can develop further and further,” he observes. “And it’s not just about instructing individuals, it’s realizing the capacity of all of us to teach, share and collaborate.”

When communities engage in education, they discover the inherent capacity for change and can develop further and further.”

On campus, Alejo is finding plenty of opportunities to empower his community. Beyond working for the Dean of Students office and as a resident adviser for his peers, he regularly meets with Oxy staff members who are looking to improve their English language skills through the Comparte tutoring program, Community Partnership for Education and Empowerment.

“I’ve really developed a family with those people,” he says. “Every time I meet with the staff I can speak my native language and feel connected. We can communicate and learn in a more meaningful way, and I’m seeing this work as a window into popular education.”

While training to be an educational facilitator for Comparte, Alejo also has a side project teaching language, natural science, history and politics to youth in Argentina via the Internet. “Despite the distance, I still feel how powerful it is to connect empathetically with someone through education,” he says.

This semester is giving Alejo more opportunities to expand his multicultural point of view. Through “Education 205: The Politics and Pedagogy of First and Second Language Acquisition,” Alejo and his classmates are studying how English language skills related to listening, speaking, reading, writing and thinking develop in culturally and linguistically diverse public school classrooms.

“My international interests come into play when bringing in different languages and examining the politics of being multilingual or monolingual,” he says. Understanding the politics related to education will not only help Alejo in attaining his goal of becoming an educator but also in promoting restorative justice and mediation techniques within his career and the field of education.

He says that, as a community, Oxy is open to bringing in all voices and working together with different constituencies. He has seen this firsthand through his participation in the Restorative Justice Committee on campus, which is comprised of faculty, staff and students.

“We’re all together building community,” he says. “These are the kinds of horizontal education practices that I believe can improve relationships and create stronger groups of people.”