Maxwell Hardy ′12
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Major: International Studies
Fun Fact: While abroad, Maxwell lived with a Zulu family.
You’re from Brooklyn. Why not go to school up North?
All my friends went to northeastern schools similar in size and academic clout. I didn’t want that, so I decided to go south! I think of my time here as a cultural immersion. Rhodes is in many ways outside of what I grew up with. From the time I was born until I was 18, I knew nobody from Mississippi or Texas or Tennessee. Now, my best friends are from these places. Just attending Rhodes compliments what I experience in class because I’ve learned how to be open to, and aware of, political and cultural differences. This might be just as important as anything I learn in class. My development as a citizen of the global community has undeniably benefited me and, whatever my future holds in international work, I think my time at Rhodes will prove invaluable.
What do you think of your time here as an International Studies major?
Rhodes is one of the only liberal arts colleges that has its own International Studies department. Frequently, colleges only offer Political Science majors—here, we have separate departments. Also, with small class sizes and approachable professors, International Studies provides an intimate atmosphere. I’ve also loved the ability to mesh my major with my minor—Environmental Studies—because both disciplines overlap so much. For example, I can in one class study hardline, realpolitik questions about topics like U.S. national security, and in another discuss different soft-power incentives to encourage states to reexamine their carbon emissions.
Your interest took you all the way to South Africa, right?
Yes, a semester in South Africa was a magnificent experience. I spent most of my time living with Zulu families and learning about what a recent transition to democracy looks like on the local level. I was honored to intern with the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)—a non-governmental organization contracted by, among other entities, the African Union and the United Nations to run workshops with peacekeepers. I worked in their Knowledge Production Department conducting research on environmentally motivated conflict in countries bordering the Nile River.
How have your interests extended out into the Memphis community?
I love Memphis! I love the food, the people, and the music. Last summer I was a fellow for an archive Rhodes maintains called Crossroads to Freedom. We interviewed people who lived during the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, and placed the recordings on a publicly accessible website (crossroadstofreedom.org). Memphis had an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement, largely through the symbolism of the sanitation workers strike. It was great to be given the opportunity to help preserve the movement’s story for future generations, and I am now more able to appreciate the city and Rhodes’ contribution to it.