My story within MundoMaker begins a little after New Years. I don’t remember the exact scene, but I was likely sitting, drinking coffee at the beach, and trolling LinkedIn for a potential job opening somewhere on the West Coast. The invitation came from a simple phone call; a close family friend told me about some sort of education-based road trip around Brazil. She had been contacted to help idealize the project and thought that maybe it would interest me. My heart and mind where set, I was going to the US, but as a life mentor once off-handedly told me, you should always go and listen, you have nothing to loose.
I’m sitting in a van, a fifteen passenger. We are on our way to Goiania, GO. Our pink and green workshop-van races ahead. We are 12 strong, little short of strangers, each of us with our own crazy train of events that got us here. I sit here, and trace back the process that got me here—an interesting conglomeration of events and circumstances (those that we call life).
As a multi-cultural, travel-loving, twenty-four year-old with a slight tendency for work addiction, this gig fit the bill in ways. I’ll admit, more than the overall mission of education, I was drawn to the project for the challenge. I’m a project minded person. Once I have a project, I can’t stop until it’s solved. And so, the expedition became the next big project. Idealize, plan for, and put in action. “Make it happen” – that was my mission from the start.
I rearrange my sit bones, which are squared due to my position against the tiled floor-wall connection. I look up from the florescent screen to a funny scene: my feet stretched in front of me, a bunch of cables, a collection of adaptors, a printer and a phone attempting to provide a hotspot. It’s 9:45 pm on a Sunday and I’m in an elementary school in Carolina, Maranhão –my office for the night.
I jumped straight into the job, and began researching, fundraising, and planning. Google maps, Google Earth, search engines in general, e-mail, WhatsaApp, Facebook, phone calls, a bottom-less coffee mug and 5 different colored pens – not to mention the generously equipped FabLab that is MundoMaker located in São Paulo, a city of 20 million– we had all the tools and more right at our finger tips.
The pin is dropped, km 13, where we are supposed to stop. Strange… that’s not really an address. I try to contact our local ambassadors, but no one answers. The 15-passenger van is behind us, following us, depending on our GPS to arrive at our next destination. We decide to follow the pin, the answer will present itself. As we approach km 13, we see them. More than 30 people by the side of the road on the outskirts of Belém, waving banners and jumping up and down. They are singing and cheering. Welcome to Belém, MundoMaker.
None of us really foresaw the dimension this expedition would take, but the timing seemed like fate. Simultaneous to our planning, Brazil was (and still is) experiencing an intense political turbulence. While I do not care much for political debate, as I find them to be often divisionary and counter-productive, I do believe that what unfolded (and continues to unfold) in the beginning of 2016 played an interesting role in my involvement in the expedition. It became astoundingly clear to me that what Brazil truly needs is educational reform. It was when I realized the unifying strength in education. That regardless what circle I spoke to, regardless of faith, regardless of geographical or historical background, all can agree that education is important. Moreover, investing in youth is what fuels change.