Alumni Interview with Alejandro Toledo, Fulbrighter and former President of Peru
It is not uncommon for Fulbrighters to say that the program has changed their lives, but not many can claim as dramatic a turn as Dr. Toledo. From a childhood of labor and poverty, Fulbright opened Toledo’s future to a path that led him to serve as Peru’s first democratically elected president of indigenous ancestry from 2001-2006.
“Education is the most effective weapon we have to fight exclusion
and oppression. It is my own life story.”
– Dr. Alejandro Toledo, Fulbright alumnus and former President of Peru
First encouraged to study in the U.S. by Peace Corps volunteers, Toledo’s Fulbright took him to Stanford University and he has been a passionate advocate for the Fulbright program ever since. “If you Google me, you’ll find that I’m the Latin American leader who produced the highest levels of economic growth,” he explains.
“That’s not what makes me proudest,” he shares
“The poor people, the shoe shiners, the gum sellers – I was one of them.
I shined shoes. And they see me and they say:
‘If you were able to become President,
maybe my daughter or son can, too.’ “
Dr. Toledo Invites You to a Special Dinner in Lima for a Window into the History and Future of Peru
Alejandro Toledo encourages Fulbrighters to visit his country on the Insight Tour to Peru where he will hold a dinner for alumni travellers in Lima. He will share his riveting story from a life born to an impoverished family of 16 children to the first indigenous president in the Americas whose tenure spurred an economic renaissance. It’ll be a fascinating discussion on the economic realities and his vision for a “just, sustainable and prosperous society” where the “poor are incorporated into a rising middle class, with democratic institutions working effectively” in the region.
“When you come to Peru, you will see a very diverse country that has the coast, the sea and the Andes mountains, where I am from, running north to south and rising 12,000 feet above sea level.” And you will see the enormous jungle, which covers 43% of the country. Peru is privileged to have incredible biodiversity that enables us to produce so many foods year-round, unlike other countries in different climatic zones.
“A nation without knowledge is a nation with no destiny. I am a strong believer
in investment in people. Fulbright has played a role in (helping nations)
make the jump from raw material economies to knowledge economies.”
– Toledo shares from his book
The Shared Society: A Vision for the Global Future of Latin America
“We need leaders to make this the most promising continent of the world, ‘ he explains. “Fulbright can make that investment in the minds of our people. You will see the enormous cultural diversity. You have the chance to travel and meet beneficiaries of the Fulbright program.” He concluded with this:
“Take trips! See the reality on the ground. See life as it is.
Don’t just stay at your desk. Meet people who think and look differently
than you do. These differences enrich the world.”