Agustin Garcia ('16), a Finance major, received a Nanovic Break Travel and Research Grant for Sophomores and Juniors to research European financial education. In the process, he found an issue that he feels is worth fighting for. Continue reading to learn more about Agustin and his passion for financial education:
Even during this era of globalization, it is easy to lose track of what is going on in the world. Our natural tendency to be self-centered, specially in a developed country, often leads us into thinking that what is going on around us is unique and in some ways more advanced than what is going on anywhere else. We study and we read what goes on in other continents, but yet we never truly grasp reality until we experience it first hand. Even with much technological progress made in the area of communication, the extent to which we understand situations in other parts of the world is still limited by the increasingly relevant physical barrier. To be in a place and to talk face to face will forever beat reading a story or looking at a screen.
Everyone has passion for an issue. At Notre Dame, students often get engaged with a particular topic related in some capacity to social justice. Most of us serve with nonprofits during our summers and even during the school year. We are also avid readers and constant debaters of the things we are passionate for. In fact, the commercials of our University promote this spirit of “What would you fight for?” as if asking “What is going to be the issue you dedicate time to these four years?”. For me, that issue is financial education, and thanks to a Nanovic grant I was able to take my involvement to the next level.
The Nanovic grant that I received allowed me to experience what was going on in Europe in regards to financial education. I had read about many initiatives in different countries and reports of progress from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As mentioned before, however, reading at a distance can not be compared with being there physically. In my research trip I was able to attend a conference in Brussels, headquarters for the EU. Well, it was more than just a conference, it was a conference that gathered the most important thought leaders in the world in the issue of financial education. Every field was represented, from academics to business to government and nonprofits. It was truly incredible to see many actors joining efforts, but it was even more incredible to have access to them and discuss their and my ideas. I guess the exchange of ideas is one thing that field research gives you, you don’t get to rebuttal a text.
Additionally, I had access to the office of the OECD in Paris and nonprofits in Amsterdam and London. Many surprises came with my visits. For example, in Amsterdam I met with the lead researcher for Child & Youth Finance International. Little did I know from their website, that they were running a behind the scenes initiative to build a consensus within the academic community on the most appropriate way to teach financial education. They had produced many reports on a concept called economic citizenship. This concept was so captivating to e, it now on track to shaping my senior thesis and future work with the issue of financial education.
Ultimately, the research trip was a huge success. I certainly had the opportunity to benchmark several financial education efforts across Europe and notice how they are different from the ones I have worked with in the US, Bangladesh, and Latin America. The knowledge and connections acquired gave me new perspective, refreshed my passion, and opened doors that will prove essential to my research. As I build a worldly view on the issue of financial education, I am grateful for the support of the Nanovic Institute as this would not have happened without it and grateful also for Notre Dame for inspiring me to find something worth fighting for.