“My dream was to come to the United States to study,” says Mateo Tobar, an international student from La Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador.
“I told my mom I was going to Kalamazoo, and she was like, ‘Why are you going to Africa?’” says Tobar.
As an avid member of Model United Nations and International Politics major, Tobar is determined to make a difference and implement what he’s learned from K’s environment to the everyday lives of Ecuadorians.
“The situation in Ecuador is really hard economically and politically,” he says. “What’s happening right now is all the young people are trying to get involved and trying to move masses. That’s what I like.”
Tobar admits, “I like Bernie Sanders. I don’t believe he is a socialist, compared to the Ecuadorian president, who I see as an actual democratic socialist. People tend to think that Bernie leans to the extreme left, but there’s more extreme measures of socialism. If he ran for president of Ecuador, I’d be like ‘Yeah, i’m gonna vote for that guy,’ because you haven’t seen the president now.”
“The thing I’ve enjoyed the most here is getting to know different types of people around the world and how they think. People here are really open,” says Tobar. “There are many unique places here to be yourself, like Arcus and all gender restrooms and the Intercultural Center.” He would like to replicate these safe spaces in some form back in his country to promote a more open and acceptable society.
His passion for his country and the world of politics leads him to have one ultimate goal: “My dream is to be the president of Ecuador. That is the dream.”
Tobar is living his American Dream and someday hopes to make his Ecuadorian Dream possible. He says, “In the end I want to go back to Ecuador to make my country a better place. Here in the United States you have a lot of opportunities and that’s what I want to make for my country, a place where you can find opportunities and where people want to go not only to visit family. That would be pretty cool.”
After his year abroad, Tobar plans to return to Ecuador to complete his bachelor’s degree and hopefully return to attend graduate school in the US.