Madi McEwen, Education & International Visitors Coordinator
A University of Buffalo ’18 graduate and ardent advocate for diversity & inclusion, Ms. McEwen is the Education & International Visitors Coordinator supporting her department in increasing global awareness and engagement of all Western New York residents.
What did you study and what experiences do you have that are relevant to your position?
[MM]: I studied history and political science at the University of Buffalo and graduated this spring. I was heavily involved with advocacy on my campus in leadership positions related to UB’s Amnesty International Club and as an intern in our Intercultural and Diversity Center. Also, I was a campus organizer for the Enough Project, where I pushed for a “conflict-free” electronic policy reform that would promote peace in the Great Lakes Region in Africa. Advocacy has been the common thread, it seems, in a lot of my experiences.
What is your role here as the Education & International Visitors Coordinator?
[MM]: I would say that my underlying job here is to increase people’s awareness and acceptance of diversity here in Buffalo. Broadly speaking, I feel as though my role is to push people out of their comfort zones and to garner an understanding on things they are not immediately familiar with. I am still learning everyday about the breadth of programs that the Education & International Visitors department offers to our community!
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about working at an organization like the Institute?
[MM]: I would say that the most rewarding thing would be the opportunity to work with such a genuine group of colleagues here at the Institute. People here really care about their clients and the issues they advocate for; it is very inspiring.
What is the first word that comes to mind when I say “International Institute of Buffalo”?
What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of? Why?
[MM]: When I was a part of Amnesty International in college, we hosted an event as part of a larger national campaign, Peace Meal Buffalo. It was about sharing a meal between immigrants and non-immigrants. We had a larger than expected turnout with college students, immigrant and refugee communities, and other Buffalo organizations showing their support.
Since the Institute works with diverse people from all over the world, can you share with us your own heritage?
[MM]: My Mom is almost entirely Polish and my Dad is Scottish and Irish.
Given the international nature of the Institute, have you traveled abroad? Any places on your bucket list?
[MM]: I’ve been to South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda through study abroad experiences at UB. I also have been to Scotland on a family trip. Bucket list wise, I would like to visit Thailand, Japan or Brazil.
If you could sit down with any influential figure, who would you choose? What is one question you would ask them?
[MM]: Malala—she is such an inspiration to me as a young activist. She is so confident and her courage is so awe-inspiring.
Favorite international food?
[MM]: I love Korean food! A personal favorite dish is Bibimbap, which is essentially mixed rice topped with namul (seasoned vegetables) and chili pepper paste.
[MM]: Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is my initial go-to because it was so influential to me growing up. Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends, a series of forty questions asked to undocumented migrant children on the Mexico-U.S. border, has been my most-recent favorite read.
What can you tell me about your life away from the Institute?
[MM]: I have been really into kayaking recently this summer. I also run, do yoga and read. Here at the Institute, I am also a volunteer in HELLO program (in-home English lessons) which I look forward to every week.. Sometimes others in their neighborhood come over to join a lesson and I end up teaching more than just the two clients [laughs].
What are three traits you would say define you?
[MM]: Determined, compassionate, and creative.