OISE alum uses teaching and policy skills to fight for human rights

May 20, 2019
OISE alum Fabian Garcia.

Meet Fabian Garcia, BEd, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Ecuador to the United Nations, New York.

Can you tell us about your career journey and current priorities with the United Nations?

After graduating from OISE, I worked at international schools in Egypt and Ecuador. In 2006, I decided to expand my professional experience, so I joined the Ecuadorian Foreign Service. My first posting was in Germany, and since 2016 I have worked at the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York. I am a delegate to the Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and human rights issues, including the right to education.

Today, the United Nations includes 193 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. 

My current role encompasses attending UN meetings, negotiating broad policy proposals with representatives from other Member States, and delivering resolutions that contain multilateral decisions or recommendations on a specific topic related to the Ecuadorian population. 

How would you reflect on your time at OISE in the bachelor of education program? 

I obtained my bachelor degree at OISE, but I obtained my master’s degree in education at a foreign university. From my experience, I can say OISE is at the cutting edge of education. The quality of the instructors, the research and the available programs put the insititution well ahead of the rest.  

During my studies, I took a course on theories and practices of alternative education and schooling. It really inspired me to see things from a different perspective. There was never a right or wrong answer, only the need to think critically and continuously analyze the complexity of education and how to improve the system for the benefit of students.

The course on alternative education included a field trip to visit some alternative schools around Toronto, including SEED and Oasis. These were eye-opening encounters for me. We heard from teachers and students about the richness of their educational experience, which influenced my perspectives as I entered the international school arena after graduation.

We heard your partner Ana Bahamonde encouraged you to attend OISE. That's great! How did that conversation go?

I have an undergrad major in environment and resource management, and I was working at a company that delivered natural gas. I did not find my job academically stimulating, so Ana, who had just graduated from OISE, suggested that I should apply to the teaching program. She said I would love the program. I started by gaining some experience by volunteering at Frontier College. 

Ana was right; she’s an amazing teacher and school counsellor. Her advice changed my life.

You've had many international positions in education and policy. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

Of course, I would like to think that my greatest accomplishment is yet to come. However, I must say that personally my family is a constant source of happiness and stability. My professional career has taken me to very interesting places and I have met incredible people. Although I still aspire to complete a doctorate degree at the University of Toronto. So, there is more to come. 

What advice would you give to OISE's students looking to apply skills in teaching?

Teaching remains one of the most fulfilling and indispensable careers in any culture, despite teachers not always getting the recognition they deserve. Although I have left the classroom to pursue other goals, I miss it. And I often apply my teaching background in my career now. To current students, your degree will be valuable for many career paths – take mine for example!

With OISE I can...

"Explore exciting opportunities."

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