Monday, October 23, 2006

Alum Update: Estevan Munoz Howard '04

Estevan writes of his recent time abroad and how our incessant use of the concept of social capital in PG 250 finally brainwashed him:

"Since I graduated in 2004 I have mostly been living abroad. Last year I was teaching English in Japan; this year I'm managing an ecolodge in the Ecuadorian Andes. I look forward to finally returning home in June of 2007, at which point I will be finalizing my plans for graduate school and applying to programs next Fall to attend school the following year (2008)....For the longest time I was torn trying to decide which subject to focus on in my studies: Environmental Politics or Latin American Politics. However, since coming here to Ecuador and experiencing the local culture (we live in a very small town) a new interest has taken over and quickly eclipsed the other two. My attention has returned to the idea of social capital...studying it, writing about it, fostering it...

I am interested in working to promote social capital because I see it as a crucial factor in our social and political well-being and I believe that with its increase many other questions and dilemmas can be addressed. I realized that many of the problems we are experiencing in the States are directly related to deficiencies in various types of social capital. I've recently been reading studies and theses regarding this subject on the World Bank website, among others, and they have really piqued my interest.

...I have found the APSIA programs to be interesting. I am particularly interested in the dual-degree programs that combine international affairs with public policy or social work. But the more I look into social capital, the more I feel like that might be the field I will go into (although these fields are clearly not mutually exclusive). I've noticed that there don't seem to be many comprehensive organizations whose specific aim is to build social capital in general. There are several that focus on raising social and political awareness or getting people involved in solving specific problems, but I haven't found too many that attempt to link the various forms of social capital together, at least, not explicitly. At this point, I'm interested in getting experience working with non-profits in the Seattle area and then who knows...maybe starting one of my own or expanding another one that is already out there. Ideally, I would be able to work with an organization that takes a more unified approach to the promotion of social that seeks to build it on both macro and micro levels...possibly with international programs as well as national ones."

Any alums out there who have thoughts on programs or opportunities that Estevan should look into, given his interests above? Comment below or send me an email and I'll pass it along to him.