Hugo Flores, originally from Mexico, is receiving a Master of Global Affairs from the Keough School of Global Affairs. He shares his story as part of the International Student Reflection series from the class of 2021.
I came to Notre Dame to learn more about society in all its dimensions. Before joining this program, I spent my entire career in the field of global health. I thought I had a good understanding of health systems and programs, but I also noticed that there were many factors outside the health system that affected the health of populations. I felt my vision was very narrow. I wanted to learn about politics and economics, about conflict resolution, and about the role religion and spirituality play in group dynamics.
When I started the program, during my first semester, I discovered a new world of knowledge opening before my eyes. My classes were just about the topics I wanted to learn about. I was excited and could not stop reading. I was in awe of the expertise of the professors and wanted to get as much of their wisdom and experience as possible.
My foundations class in Global Affairs gave me the language to understand how power dynamics operate at the global and institutional level, and the understanding that no matter the size of the organization or the state, at the end there are human beings running the show behind the scenes, with their individual fears and desires. My macroeconomics class gave a new panorama to understand how currency and trade work; what countries can do to stimulate the economy and when their hands are just tied. In my integral human development class, we dug into the ethical implications and frameworks of decisions. Of course, the Integration Lab provides an opportunity that I think is very unique, to do work in the real world, with amazing support and mentorship, and that probably not many programs in the world have. The list goes on, but in summary, I can say that every single one of my courses was excellent, relevant, and through each of them I gained invaluable perspective.
Throughout the campus there are always so many different interesting events, that it is hard to choose which one to attend. There are several institutes that regularly host scholars from around the world, researching the most relevant topics of our days. I had the opportunity to attend many of them, sometimes a few every week, and they always kept me wanting to come back.
Another aspect that makes this program great is the diversity of the cohort. I had classmates that came from all the corners of the world. Their different perspectives enriched conversations about relevant world events that occur every day, in a way that could have not been possible in a group where one or only a couple of nationalities are present. I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved every classmate I met, both in my class and in the ones above and below.
The Keough School and the University of Notre Dame have been nothing but welcoming to the international students. In addition to the financial support, the staff and faculty are always willing to help us solve any problem and achieve our maximum potential. I will remember my time at Keough as one of the best of my life.