Education has always played a large role in Andrew Brescia’s life.
“My parents stressed that we children needed a good education to stand on our own two feet,” he explained.
As Director of Communications at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, education is not only Andrew’s profession but also one of his passions.
After reading about Barakat for the first time in an article in The Boston Globe, Andrew decided to inquire further, eventually becoming a donor and avid supporter of the organization.
“I became involved [with Barakat] after reading an op-ed column by Programs Director Arti Pandey that appeared in The Boston Globe and corresponding with her. One thing led to another, and now I do what I can to help support Barakat’s inspiring work on behalf of girls and women in a part of the world in which I grew up,” he said.
Indeed, Andrew has seen some of the areas Barakat works with firsthand. The son of a Foreign Service Officer, Andrew grew up in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan before eventually moving back to the United States.
Andrew was especially drawn to Barakat’s goal to spread female literacy and education for reasons both political and personal.
“It is widely understood by those who study developing nations that such a nation’s prosperity is tied directly to the level at which women are educated,” he explained. “On a more personal level, my father worked to provide English language classes in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and my mother, who modeled an intellectual curiosity and love of reading throughout her life, returned to college to earn her degree at the age of 70.”
With both his parents serving as key models, Andrew asserts just how important it is for men in particular to support the education and empowerment of women.
“History teaches us that men were for too long the oppressors. Many of us are unwilling to carry on that tradition, and literate women raise both boys and girls who are empowered to resist oppressors in any guise, including religious extremists. When you help to educate women, more of the world’s people grow up believing in self-determination,” he continued.
Indeed, Andrew is quick to credit his mother with setting an example of the drive and curiosity that has served him well in his profession:
“I was an English teacher for nearly 20 years, and, thanks in part to one of the last conversations I had with my mother, I am now returning to the classroom to teach English to international students at Lawrence Academy. My hope is someday to teach English to students overseas. Much of what motivated me as I grew up came from my mother’s emphasis on receiving a rigorous education and also from her example. Men stand to gain as much as women do from literate, educated mothers; women deserve no less than men, and organizations like Barakat help to balance the scales.“
By: Lisa DeBenedictis