When Maxcy Grasso’s parents emigrated to the United States from Cuba and Argentina, they decided to forgo their mother tongue and raise their children in English in an attempt to assimilate to American life.
But over the years, Grasso, who will graduate from Northeastern this spring with a degree in politics, philosophy and economics, has slowly begun reconnecting with her Latin American roots through Spanish language classes, tango lessons, and soon, as an English teacher in Argentina through the U.S. Fulbright Student Program.
After graduating, Grasso will travel for the first time to her father’s homeland to teach and engage in educational community service projects from March 2023 through November 2023. “It’s always been a dream of mine to go to Argentina,” she says. “I have family there that I’ve never met, but once they heard the news, they reached out to me right away and said they were excited to meet me.”
Grasso was inspired to apply for the Fulbright grant, which covers all living expenses and travel costs to and from Argentina, after spending a month in Spain during a Dialogue of Civilizations study abroad program where took Spanish classes and taught English at an after-school program as part of a community service project.
“Being able to see my teaching make a difference was really gratifying,” she says. “I remember teaching my students how to tell time, and the next day they came in, they were so proud to tell me what time it was.”
Part of her project in Argentina includes community service, and Grasso, who has been a dancer since childhood and is a member of Northeastern’s Revolve Dance Crew, hopes to teach free dance lessons.
After completing her Fulbright program, Grasso plans to enroll in the Peace Corps’ economic development program and teach financial literacy courses in Latin America. And after the Peace Corps, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in education.
During her co-op at the J-PAL (Poverty Action Lab) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Grasso worked on educational policy projects and says she learned about the importance of not making blind decisions in this field.
“I really believe educational policy makers should have experience in education first,” she says. “Hopefully this will be a learning experience that helps me in my future career.”
Grasso believes she stood out among other applicants because of her passion for Argentina and her previous experience working as an English teacher in a Spanish-speaking country.
“Argentina, it’s in my blood,” she says. “That coupled with the experiences I’ve had at Northeastern landed me in this position where I was able to receive this award, and I’m so grateful.”