A blessed journey

Aston Mum

Almost at the end of this journey, I feel like gradually fulfilling my goals in every step I have planned. To be honest, everything is just excelling my plans since I have been accepted in this master programme. To start with, I was awarded with the Santander Scholarship just 3 days after my arrival at Aston. Then, my life took off in multiple roles as student, tourist and professional, working on my field and therefore living beyond my initial expectations. This is the reason why I’m full of enthusiasm while planning my next steps after the course finishes in September.

It has been nine months so far, but my perception is that it has been more than two years considering the amount of experiences I have acquired here. Highlighting some of important lessons leaned along this journey I’d say that I have learnt to be resilient while following the University procedure (there are many) addressing assignments and improving my performance against short deadlines. In fact, I’m currently learning how to conciliate my final assignment, the dissertation, with a work journey and a busy job search and applications. I admit that this moment I’m living now is the hardest one so far, but still, I’m very excited and I promise to bring you good news soon in four months time.

Despite of all academic procedures, my greatest learning was how to take advantage and gain experience on my area through the lenses of different cultures. This was only possible due to the environment I was involved, surrounded by 13 colleagues coming from different cultural backgrounds worldwide. We have celebrated diversity at classrooms and beyond, traveling and studding together, sharing ideas on social media and producing 10 thematic dinners hosted by each one of my colleagues and their amazing gastronomy. Without the doubt, the positive interaction makes all difference on learning process, cause it makes the necessary bond between formal knowledge and empirical one, contextualizing what you read and hear with what you feel from different viewpoints.

Talking about difficulties, I experienced some isolation, particularly during the winter, but I have decided to leave the city and meet friends during the seasons holiday (by the way, the coldest weather in England was supportable for a tropical creature like me thanks to the right cloths and fantastic friends motioned on past posts). However, the greatest challenge I have faced was to make English language as my main way of express knowledge in academic manner. Bare in mind that even if you are a good English speaker and writer, you will still need to know how to meet the University needs of reflecting, criticizing and paraphrasing authors in accordance with your standpoints. It seams to be simple, but it requires hard work till you get used to it. So, since English is not your first language, I would recommend you to search for guidance at Aston on LDC (Learn Development Centre) where good mentors are available all time. In fact, as in many other situations in life, people are the key for development, so use, use and use the human resources available at Aston. Personally, I was impressed by “Aston’s way of make things easier for students” and always counted on the staff support to achieve what I needed. The Hub, Student Support, Career Centre, Library, International Office  and my lectures were, in general, very supportive and encouraging and take this chance to thank them all for everything.

Lastly, I had the immense pleasure to receive my mum during 15 days on this summer. She has walk with me around my favourite places on campus and also outside Birmingham and this fact made my time here even more special. She is definitely the one which is part of all my achievements in life so far. Thanks, mum!

See you guys soon!

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Celebrating my new job with low carbon

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Hello, hello!

I’m celebrating the fact that I was selected as member of Pioneer into Practice programme from Climate Kic, a non-profit organisation present with 30 branches around Europe which aims to engage professionals, business and students to think and act on field of climate change, promoting a sustainable transition in the economy from fossil fuels based to renewable or energy low carbon. The programme Pioneer into Practice provides a hands-on mobility programme for researches and professionals to put in practice their expertise and create innovative solutions for climate change.

For me the great advantages, since I want to pursue the path in sustainability, are the opportunity to work in a different area, climate change in two different work placements, Birmingham and another city in Europe, to participate on disruptive workshops and to be part of a team of innovative professionals and create a high level network of contacts for future. And yes, it is a paid programme.

The marathon starts next week, end of April with three days workshops continue with the four weeks local placement in June and the international placement in September, finishing with evaluation workshops till November. I’m excited about which organisation I’m going to here in Birmingham and abroad as well as for participating on the workshops and productive discussions.

Although it is a great thing that have happened to me, I will have to be be very focused in this next five months, because I have my dissertation deadline which is due to beguining of September. Additionally, I’ll have my 15 days break in June when my mom is coming to visit me.

So, lots of great things happening in this period, but as we know for those who are ambitious the ability is to get things well done is always energy and time consuming. I hope to be able to conciliate it all very well and still have fun during this journey till November. Where I have no idea about my next steps.

I want to thanks to John Blewitt, my lecture, which introduced me this programme and the Careers Center of Aston University for the activism on interacting with good institutions for placement.

I don’t know why, but have the feeling that another great new will come soon. Don’t worry, cause I will keep you posted.  🙂

See you!

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“Breaking down” in Devon

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I needed a break after finishing the term 2 by the end of March and before starting my dissertation now in April. I felt like my energy was running out to minus 1. And when my friends suggested me to go for five days to Devon ( county sited on southwest of England) it just fitted perfect to what I was looking for: silent and relaxation ant the sea cost.

This part of the country is known as English Riviera because of its astonishing beauties of the marinas, beaches, hills and cliffs. The cities I have visited are like south of France or Italy by the picturesque landscape with the moored boats on the coast and the warm weather that reminded the Mediterranean Sea.

By car, we left Birmingham to the south aiming Brixham, but till get there, we passed by Glastonbury, (famous by the annual music festival and to be King Arthur’s place) Bristol (I was impressed by suspension bridge connecting a deep canyon), Exeter (where I have to go back to see the cathedral) and finally we reached our destination that welcomed us with blue sky.

Once there, you have to walk around over cliffs and breath the North Atlantic winds while admiring the deep abyss under your feet and wideness of the ocean at your eyes line. I get till the very edge of the cliffs but don’t recommend if it is windy. By the way, I hope my mom never see these pics.

From Brixham, you can quickly move to Paignton where we did a fantastic tour to Dartmouth including a bus, boat to the river Dart and steam train back to the starting point. Four hours of absolute dazzle. The day after we went to Torquay, another post-card city in the same area where the fish and chips are more fish and chips 🙂

To close the journey we went to Plymouth and met the vibe of biggest city in that county. The marina is very charming and we spent a couple of hours taking good pictures and having nice food, ah! Please, once there try Cornish pasty which is unique in that zone.

Recharged again I’m now ready to the third part of my masters and I’m excited to be hands on for more four months. I’m sure that the best part of this course right around the corner.

See you soon!

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Fair Start in Dubai

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Following my last post and continuing to bring the highlights in March, I have to tell you how was the trip to Dubai motivated to Hult Prize competition

My team and I had lots of expectations and excitement to represent Aston University internationally in such a nice initiative (sorry for not been modest, but I really proud of our solution to the reach 10.000 children slams with Fair Start centres).

Summarizing the idea, Fair Start proposes a dual solution to target early child education by firstly, bringing back mother/father and children together in a inspiring space where education will take place and the caregiver plays the teacher’s role and secondly, by focusing on the parents’ professional development towards income generation. So, we tackle lack of education by increasing the family attention on the child and offering the parents economic support.

To understand why this is approach is so important, take in consideration that deprivation of affection and lack of attention from the age of 0 to 6 is massive phenomena in Brazilian slams. This factor lead to other forms of domestic violence against children and undermine the later engagement in school. The absence of parents in children’s life occurs mainly because they are busy struggling to survive.

As we truly believe in the effectiveness of our idea, our pitch was very confident and enthusiastic in the presence of the judge and despite the fact that we received very good feedbacks, unfortunately we didn’t win it. However, the whole process was very productive. I’ve learned a lot technically from the challenge and also from a human perspective as a team member in this last five months. I’d definitely move forward this idea in the right moment. I’d like to thanks to Ricardo Voltolini, Fernando Feitosa, Daniela Sinhorini, Grabriela Silva, Gilsomar Ferreira, Luca Padovani, Paul Barnett, Vince Curran, Olinga Taeed, Elsa Daniels and Esmer Chiffero for all the support to our team.

Apart from the competition, we have enjoyed Dubai. The city is an impressive man-planned-wealthy oasis in the desert. We visit the famous Raj Khalifa, the highest building in the world, (yes, till the top) and Atlantis Hotel and beach at Palm Island. There, I could not resist swimming after more than 6 months without having a proper beach experience 🙂

The great moments of this short and very intense journey will be remembered by the team experience preparing the pitch and having fun with a hundred of jokes per hour. Thank you for the nice time we have spent together: Divya, Austin and Jack.

Happy Easter for you all!

 

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Big March: a month to remember

 

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March has been the busiest month of this MSc so far. The combination of 6 different assignments plus my dissertation proposal, extra-curriculum activities and job search had bombastic effect on my nerves. Thank God I had the company of very special friends and my swimming time brought me emotional and physical stability, essential elements for me to move ahead.

Fortunately, March is now finishing, but is letting me very important outcomes and also opening my spirit to new perspectives on my staying in Birmingham with regards to academic, personal and professional perspectives.

Starting with the outcomes, I admit that I have acquired more practical knowledge in this term 2. In general, the modules were quite industry-oriented and I have put lots of efforts on my essays bringing case studies and joining theory with practical side from my own background. Let’s see if my final marks will make justice to that, but to be honest with you, I’ve been trying to associate my academic performance also based on how I can apply the theoretical knowledge in the market in a close future. So, in the essays I visualize that I’m a consultant and I have not only an academic task in front of me, but also a corporate challenge to be tackled and it has been working!

Now, moving to the extra-curriculum activities. I had the opportunity to participate on LIMUM, London International Model of United Nations. Personally, I created plenty of expectations for this event, which is a reproduction of the UN assembly in New York oriented to students who aspire a position in this institution (Hey, I’m here). But besides the opening ceremony with strong speeches about Millennium Development Goals achievements, the work session was not so involving. I really expected a more mature debate about the topics, but the issues were not deeply discussed. Anyway, It was worthy to go to London with a group of 10 colleagues and meet special people there in those two days. (photo)

Jumping now to the job search. I’m excited to get a job here and I will definitely make it happen! I dedicated some time to applications and exploring contacts on March, and hopefully I will be shortlisted in some. If not, I will take this much more seriously from April on since I have fewer academic deadlines to fulfil.

I hope to bring you good news soon, keep following me 🙂

Getting things well done

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It seamed to be yesterday since I started the term 2 on 12th January, but actually this term has been very compact and more intense compared to the first one. Because of the trip to Dubai to represent Aston at Hult Prize I have been working on my six assignments in a weekly basis. Each week, I establish a personal commitment to get one new assignment done by Saturday and try to have the Sunday free (but strictly when I get it done).

Working over the all weekends is something that I can only compare to my two last years in Luanda (Angola). There (I still don’t know how) but I used to conciliate four different types of activities (job 1, job 2, media articles and volunteering) and by that time, I still had my household activities and the marriage life. It is funny, but now that I only have to study, (ok, I also have to cook almost everyday, shopping, laundry and make up my room) it seams to be the same amount of work that I had before!. Maybe I am just getting old or maybe I will just have clear answer in future J

Older or not, I have the same enthusiasm to get things done and pretty well done. One example that made me really happy last week was my participation on the Green Week at Aston on 11th Feb. This event is an annual initiative that aims to increase the awareness of sustainability practices from inside out campus. I was invited since last year to talk about my experience in communicating sustainability in Africa. Basically, my challenge was to resume my last seven years in 30 mints presentation.

The preparation of the slides itself made me cry. I had Angolan music playing background sound and slide after slide I had all my memories coming back as beautiful movie. Each project I have performed, the incredible people I have met and the some of the important happenings of life (include the devastating ones) were just back there.

I was happy with my performance, but the fact that made me feel proud of myself was sharing such an emotional and personal content with an audience formed also by people that I never met. The excitement of the premier brought me the wish to work on my performance, keeping the exact genuine essence and do it again, and again.

I thank my course director, Carole Parkes for this opportunity and my colleagues for their supportive presence and very beautiful collective presentations.

See you guys soon!

 

 

Back to Birmingham: let it snow and keep walking

Snow

If you remember my last post I have said that I have searched for snow that I never was able to see during the season’s break. But after three days since my arrival, the snow finally met me back on campus.

Such an incredible sensation and a childish reaction I had when I saw the ice falling through the window. Obviously that I went down to touch it. And I believe that It may be the same for those ones who never saw the sea and need to taste it, right?

Since I went back, I started  to plan my next term more accurately with not only desirable outcomes by Easter break, but also with the feasible ones. And I have to admit that I will be absolutely busy all time. Cause I will have the dissertation’s arrangements, the modules’ assignments the job search and some extra curriculum activities that got involved. These activities will put me on from 7AM to 11PM from Monday to Saturday (and even on Sunday).

As my mum always say, “ who wants more from life, needs to give more to life”. As I strongly believe on her I will give myself all to have from life what I want.

To stat with something exciting, our Fair Start team of Hult competition is going to Dubai on 12th of March to dispute the regionals. If we beat the 49 teams there, we will go to MIT in Boston to test our model for the social entrepreneurship in the incubator for three weeks and then, to dispute the final in New York on June and meet Mr. Bill Clinton and maybe receive the prize from him.

I already feel the heavy pressure of deadlines and my personal expectations on my shoulders. But I’m sure I will be able to make my best before eating chocolate’s Easter eggs while enjoying my next train trip around England 🙂

I hope to bring you good news soon!

Aston Snow

My friends were my Christmas gifts

I can finally say that for the first time in seven years I had a proper vacation time. Who would say that a tropical person like me would have fun in very low temperatures and would enjoy the cold and even search for snow?

But this only happened because I met really warming friends on my journey between London, Tonbridge Wells, Brighton, Brussels, Gent and Copenhagen during 17 days.

To begin with, I let Birmingham on December 23th  to spend Christmas and New Year in London. There, I experienced a true British season in every detail. Susan’s family treated me with care and love. That was something that helped me to support the lack of my own family back in Brazil. I had delicious food, drinks and my first crackers! I lived the children’s expectations for Santa Claus, and we played together with their new toys.

Then, Tonbridge Wells and Brighton where another gifts in my journey. Again, I was with very nice people met through Julius and visit fantastic sites. Tonbridge is more historical having the traditional cottages and Edwardian buildings designing its landscape with narrow streets, while Brighton is sunnier with a light lifestyle, typically found in the coast. Do you remember the Fat Boy Slim, beach parties? Yes, they happened there!

After three days of hear the 12 bells of Big Ben and to see the spectacular fire crafts show in Westminster with Breno, I crossed the English Channel by train to Brussels. My next motivation: meet Ketty, Beeckmans’ family and the new member of our community: Florien, a four-weeks baby girl whose the sweet smell and the warm stuck in my mind and still help me to fall asleep at night.

Brussels was much more than I expected. The city has a unique ancient centre in gothic style and charming cafes and sweet shops. The season’s light show at Grand Place was breathtaking while the chocolates were simply irresistible. But, who starts a died during vacation? J

Ghent was my next stop in Belgium.  It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders. Florien presented me the gorgeous historical centre and Saint Nicholas Church. We stopped in a restaurant with an astonishing view of the river bathing the buildings in the heart of city.

Four days later, Juliana and her cats opened arms for me. She took me to walks in Copenhagen and around the countryside where the sites are amazingly beautiful. The capital is a balanced mix between features of the Monarchy and Scandinavian style with modern architecture and a vibrant nightlife.

In the north part of the island where Copenhagen is sited I had the privilege to visit Kronborg Castle mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet. From there, I saw Sweden very close and started to think of browse northward on my future destinations and meet the Viking culture.

Incredible journey to fit in a post! But I will not finished without saying thank you to my lovely friends that made my Christmas season outside home meaningful and unforgettable.

I hope to see you again soon!

Copenhagen
Copenhagen

 

In Ghent :)
In Ghent 🙂
With Juliana and Julius in Denmark.
With Juliana and Julius in Denmark.
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Brussels
Brighton
Brighton
Warm feeling with Susan's family
Warm feeling with Susan’s family

 

 

Ending up in a Brazilian way

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Think about mixing black beans with garlic, onions, bay leaves, cumin, and other strong spices with a wide variety of meats fresh, dried and smoked pork, cow and sausages. All these ingredients cook lazily for 4h and rest out of fridge for more 24h in order to mature its delicious and unique taste and smell.

This is FEIJOADA, my friend! And if you have tried before you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have not, you definitely should try in GOOD Brazilian restaurant worldwide. Ops! Sorry if you are veggie, but all the respect, I think you are missing something. 🙂

These lucky people here in the picture had the chance to experience the combination of the most famous Brazilian food with all four-aside dishes (“farofa”, cabbage, orange and rice). In addition, they all tried a homemade caipirinha, our spirit drink made of distilled sugar cane “cachaça” with lime, sugar and picked ice prepared by Julius Silva, my Aston blogger friend.

To make it as a typical Brazilian dinner, which is a genuine opportunity to celebrated life, the event was amused by our traditional dances: samba and forró. So, when the caipirinha started to make its effect together with magical combination of flavors, you can imagine how creative people can be, right?!

I was so pleased to provide a little bit of my culture to my friends and colleagues on that night, that I feel that the next one would be even better. In sum, we were all very satisfied for the great night and moments spend together. Not for a coincidence, we celebrated in that occasion the end of the first term at Aston and Silvia Gogu’s birthday. As quick retro, this term was very busy, sometimes tough, but surprisingly in the end.

I’m relieved that and happy with the outcomes so far, especially for the new friends and perspectives for new projects. Now is time to energize mind, body and spirit. For this purpose, I’m going to London, Brussels and Copenhagen to meet very special people. J

I wish you an amazing break and I hope to share nice memories from there to you on 2015.

Happy Christmas and Happy 2015!

A Fair Start for a long journey

 

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How to change the destiny of 200.000 children in risk situations living in slums with US$ 1 million start up investment on pre-school education? That is the challenge that is moving myself and 3 other more colleagues of Aston University in our social enterprise project called “Fair Start”.

This is part of an annual competition named Hult Prize, promoted by Bill Clinton in his Global Initiative. The idea of Hult Prize is award student’s best ideas around the world for social business models, which can provide solutions for world’s main challenges. For 2015 the elected issue is education for children from 0 to 6 living in slums. (Know more in the attached link: http://www.hultprize.org/en/compete/2015-prize/2015-case-studies/)

I’m proud to announce that we won the first stage of this competition between 9 other groups of students coming from different areas of knowledge. Our group will represent Aston University in London on the regionals by March next year. If we win it, we will go for a training programme in MIT- Boston and if we pass through the three months incubator programme we will receive US$ 1 million to invest in this business in my hometown, Salvador- Brazil.

Salvador is a city where 1/3 of its entire population, which is approximately 3,000,000, are living in slums. The children in those areas are mainly exposed to drugs, violence, and sexual abuse because of the lack of attention of their caregivers and parents that must to work. Our project wants to fill this gap of attention proposing an innovative methodology that consists in a dual solution for kids and caregivers, improving competences for both. Alternatively, we propose the total engagement with main sectors in society, in a multi-stakeholder approach, generating outcomes for investors on private sector, NGO’s and sharing this primary responsibility with the government that has been insufficient to fulfil education and other basic needs demanding by this population.

I have to admit that it will be very difficult to be the first between the next 50 groups in London, but my colleagues and I are absolutely passionate and engaged in learn and try our best to get as further as we can. Ideas like ours can be used anytime to support society, so we definitely will go further somehow in our careers.

To sumarise  my joy I would to like to thank to Divya Jyoti for her trust on inviting me to integrate our big team and the brilliant effort and start up ideas of Austin Cornilles and Jack Gibbons. I also thanks to Lina Marcela and Florian Sébastien for the courtesy on these pictures.

I hope to update you soon with more good news about Hult.

Please follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hult-prize-at-Aston-University/654743837974381

See you!

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