I’m an English teacher and have been working since 19 teaching in the private sector. I once wanted to be a doctor and went to a prep course to pass the medical school entry exam. I failed. To be quite honest, I never really knew exactly what career I wanted to pursue. I ended up studying International Relations simply because I could speak English and I liked to travel. I even did a master’s course in Political Science, for lack of a better option and because I had failed to enter the International Relations master’s course at the University of Brasília, and, after having taken all the subjects with only my thesis to complete, I gave up.
The first paragraph is my attempt to demonstrate that, unlike many people who seem quite certain about what they want in life, I’m a mess. I’m what Emilie Wapnick brilliantly explains on her TED Talk: a multipotentialite. That means that I have several skills and interests that could quite easily turn into some profession. Since I was a kid, I’ve studied many things simultaneously (music, flute, trumpet, arts, English, basketball, swimming, computer science, etc.) I’ve always liked every school subject and got good grades in everything. Being a multipotentialite can be fun, however, it can leave you down when it comes to making THE DECISION:
What am I going to be when I grow up?
As ironic as it may sound, today I have no doubt that it was this very state of confusion and many interests that gave me my greatest accomplishment so far. I proudly announce to all of you who don’t already know: I AM CHEVENING! #chosenforchevening. I can’t still internalize exactly all the implications of the previous assertion, but I can guarantee I’m in a state of euphoria.
How did I get it? Well, it was a relatively simple decision. I decided to be prepared. And it’s what I did and have been doing for the last 3 years. In 2015, I accepted the challenge of taking the coordination of a Binational Center library. I learned about and got involved with various projects and institutions. The Maker Movement was one of them and the funniest thing is that I won a trip with a project I wrote to get a closer look at what the San Francisco Public library was doing, as well as attend the American Library Association conference, but I couldn’t go because there was a problem with the US visa issuance system in the very same week I did the interview at the US Embassy. That same year I found Partners of the Americas (POA), which was a game changer in my life.
In 2016, I returned to the classroom and began to test methodological ideas with my students. In the middle of that year, I went to Wyoming, USA as a POA Teacher-in-Residence Fellow. At that time, I joined the POA Goiás committee as its first secretary and helped with the restructuring. It was there, in that month of July 2016, that I had clarity for the first time about what I wanted to be. I wanted to transform education in my country. I spent a month talking about teaching, education, good classroom practices and interviewing teachers at all levels and specialties. When I came back, I decided that I would focus on this and that I would dedicate much of my time and resources to professional development in this area. That’s why I gave up my master’s degree. I participated in the POA Convention in Mexico, I began to give more workshops and lectures and focused my studies on Neuroscience and Education.
Meanwhile, still in 2015, I became a National Geographic Learning pedagogical advisor, and was given the honor of presenting in the three editions of the 2017 National Geographic Learning Conference alongside incredibly skilled professionals. I had the privilege of speaking with TED Fellow Aziz Abu Sarah, for example. I met my great inspiration and mentor (at least that’s what I consider her) Mirela Ramacciotti, who invited me to participate in the interest group Mind, Brain, and Education and everything started to make more sense in my professional life. I went to several conferences, symposia and congresses, as an observer and a speaker. I traveled Brazil giving training and I saw with my own eyes the reality of several schools. At the end of 2017, I was elected president of POA Goiás.
The most interesting part is that I had no idea what Chevening was until September 2017 when I attended Brelt on the Road: Rio Edition. It was in the lecture of Priscila Bordon and Cecilia Nobre that I learned that the British government was paying thousands of people from all over the world to study in the UK with a full scholarship + cost aid. That is, all costs paid to take a Master’s degree in the UK. At first, I hesitated a lot, but decided to apply. The process was long, tiring and, to make matters worse, when the announcement of the winners came, I was a reserve. However, on July 30th at 8:50 am, more than 1 month and half after the official announcement, I checked an email on my cell phone when I was at my parents’ house in São Roque. It took me about 5 minutes to summon the courage to open that email from Chevening. The news was that I had been selected and had a few more steps to go. My reaction was strange. It felt as if I were screaming with happiness on the inside, but without uttering a sound. My mother came in and hugged me tightly and congratulated me when I told her. My father’s reaction basically: “This boy, huh?” I could hardly believe I got it.
My biggest differential was having prepared myself. I got ready for something and I discovered it only a year ago in Rio de Janeiro. I am very proud to have been chosen and want to highlight some important elements that can help you if you want to apply for this scholarship or any other:
Invest in English classes. Having the perfect profile, but not having the required level of English can be the difference between being chosen or not;
Create a leadership profile. Take risks and opportunities to get out of your comfort zone. This involves being part of associations, NGOs, study groups and volunteer work;
Invest in professional development. Do not expect to attend conferences, courses, workshops only with the help of your company. Look for committees and become a member. Travel and participate in lectures, courses and events related to your area;
Meet influential people who can recommend your work. Participate in projects and be a connector as well;
Be ready. Doing all this may not seem clear at first, however, when the opportunity presents itself, grab it!
In just over three weeks I leave for the University of Bristol to study Psychology of Education. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to say that. My diversified profile and the decision I made to prepare myself were the key factors that brought me here. That young student who had no idea of what he wanted to be when he grew up now has not only clarity but an objective, a mission: to revolutionize Brazilian education with the knowledge obtained with this Master’s degree in the United Kingdom. And the best part: if I was able to succeed, so can you. Applications are open, how about taking a look? You don’t have the profile yet? Start building it.
Bristol, see you soon!
If you think my story might help someone, please share.
Seats are limited.