Department of Economic History, Advanced School of Economy and Business Administration, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Lecturing: Latin American Culture, Economics and History
Host: Coastal Georgia Community College, Brunswick, GA
August 2002-May 2003
World Outlook Blooms in a Small Town Moving from Buenos Aires, Argentina-a bustling city of three million-to a small, quiet town on the coast of Georgia in the United States was a dramatic change for Alejandro Gomez. Nevertheless, living in Georgia was an experience he now treasures.
A Ph.D. candidate at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Gomez spent his time as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Coastal Georgia Community College (CGCC). Two-year schools do not exist in Argentina, so CGCC intrigued him. Also, he wanted to experience life in a small town. During his grant, Gomez conducted research on José Cecilio del Valle, father of Guatemalan independence. He also taught world civilization at CGCC and Latin American studies for Armstrong Atlantic State University, which offers classes on the CGCC campus.
"My objective was to share my teaching and academic experience with the community," he says. "And I also wanted to enrich my under-standing of the United States and its universities, through interaction with American faculty and students."
Gomez's seriousness about world events surprised some students, who were not used to the candid concern other countries have for the United States. Gomez established that he was there to teach the students about the perceptions of the United States held by countries throughout the world. Gomez provided both personal and professional insight into Argentina's economic crises in many of his lectures. In fact, students appreciated his honesty and often told him that his presence and perceptions were very important in helping them see a more balanced view of the world and their own country. While he was serious about his teaching, Gomez often made his students laugh, although he says it was more difficult to be funny in English.
In addition to teaching at the university, Gomez lectured locally at various organizations, such as Rotary International, and traveled throughout Georgia giving lectures at other institutions within the state university system. Traveling enabled Gomez to see firsthand academics and teaching in the United States, he says, as well as administrative procedures and economic accountability. In comparing U.S. and Argentine university systems, he was particularly impressed with the American schools' honesty in accountability of the international program budget. "That is something that you might never see in Argentina," he says.
The impact that Alejandro Gomez had on Coastal Georgia Community College is well established and continues to promote mutual understanding between North and South American education. Bridging the cultural gap and eliminating stereotypes were important aspects of Gomez's visit. In doing so, he says, one of the most important contributions he made was in his interaction with the community on a day-to-day basis. "Everyone got to know me quite well," he says. "That's the best way to promote friendship and understanding."
An advocate of international exchange, Gomez was a regular member and presenter at CGCC's International Association, which promotes worldwide awareness. "To travel abroad is to have the opportunity to acquire a different perspective on everything," he says. "It gives you the chance to open your mind and to come in contact with other realities, much more than any book."