EVP: a community library for a rooted change

Company Blogs 10. Februar 2015 Von Cleydyr de Albuquerque Staff

Last January 31, the Alcides do Nascimento Community Library was born with the help of EVP and helpful people with strong beliefs in doing good.

History

In 2011 at the metro train, I met a former colleague of students activist movement. By talking about education, we came to the conclusion that we shared the same world-views about it: it had to change and we should start the change with our own city, Jaboatão dos Guararapes (12 miles away from Recife, Brazil). Soon after that, we started to meet other people who shared the same vision and that's how the Educationist Nucleus of Jaboatão was born. Our first project was to build a community library in the heart of the poorest region of the city.

We thought it would require only books and good will to make it happen. We were wrong, though. After 3 long years we were stuck in the same place far from the promised goal. In the meantime, I joined Liferay and EVP came to Latin America office. Then everything changed, as we'll see.

The library project changed the target its initially planned target location and we overcame the larger obstacle: the building where the library would be implemented was finally available, needing some minor adjustments. We decided to put its name Alcides do Nascimento Lins.

Alcides do Nascimento, a sad but inspiring history

Alcides was a young man whose single-mother worked collecting recyclables to make a family living for four children. He studied in public schools, which are generally known to have lower quality compared to private ones. In 2007, despite all adversities, he managed to be approved in one of the hardest admission tests in the Federal University of Pernambuco. He got the 1st place among public schools students. He entered the biomedicine school and was such a good student that he had been expected to be prized with a one-month stay in England to study. However, his dreams and her mother's were abruptly destroyed in February 5, 2010, when we was cowardly murdered. The murderer was in search of another person, but as he didn't find his target after asking Alcides where the target was, he killed Alcides with two shots in the presence of his mother, Miss Maria Luiza. Alcides was killed but his example will remain forever as the boy who believed that education could lead to opportunities to break a cycle of poverty, violence and lack of self-fulfillment in which so many families are inserted.

The real difficulties

When EVP started here in Latin America, I volunteered with Zeno Rocha to lead the efforts to make things happen according to the company's mission and vision. I knew I had to do it because I saw it was the BEST opportunity in my life until then. Our budget for the project was still short, however I asked Fernando Areias if I could ask the remaining employees that had not used their allowed grant amounts for the year to give part of that amount to our project. Areias was very positive, fortunately, and then we could finally finish the basic structural repair works. João Farias helped with the materials and service acquisitions and our janitress Miss Rosinete even took a day off to help us. In a week we worked like a month. I do not regret that. Neighbors were willing to help, providing tools, food, cold water, electricity and moral support. Then in January 31, we decided to show all the neighborhood what we were to do there. Pedro Cabral and Raissa Vasconcelos from our marketing team impressively helped produce a press release with text and photographs that was published in the most read newspaper of our state. I don't know how to thank these incredible guys.

The opening was simple, but awesome

We invited the local church's maracatu band called Tambores Gaditas to play in the opening. It was just beautiful and symbolic: the maracatu is a afro-brazilian rhythm sometimes stigmatized due to religious prejudice. But they were christians putting aside every difference to show us the beauty of the music without barriers.

Miss Maria Luiza, mother of the Alcides, was one of our guests for the opening and she told her touching history with such richness of details.

We also had a poetry, music and video performance by an artistic group of the city of Jaboatão dos Guararapes.

Employees from Liferay, people from the neighborhood, members of the Educationist Nucleus of Jaboatão, activists, religious leaders, volunteers and donors from other cities were all put together in that terrific day. This is community.

There are still things to do. I know that to build is the easier part and to give real life to the place will be challenging. What I feel, though, is that I'll not be alone in this endeavor for the further goal as well.

An experience in EVP: a little insight on learning

Company Blogs 25. Oktober 2014 Von Cleydyr de Albuquerque Staff

Then it happened again. I felt like a few times a felt before. That moment of symbiosis named "learn". I've got into the "flow" of Csikszentmihaly. (It requires a few minutes of practice just to ignore the characters and pronounce it correctly: cheek-sent-m-hy-ee. Really simple for our hungarian fellows, though).

Last October 23th and 24th some coworkers, teachers and me have developed activities in the Artur Mendonça State School, in virtue of brazilian National Week of Science and Technology. I've ministered a short programming class using educational games from Code.org whereas Maíra Bello and Pablo Pinheiro, my very gentle fellows to whom I am very thankful, talked about oportunities for young students in multinational enterprises. In 2012 I've made a similar class with Liferay sponsorship that then gave some gifts that were drawn among the participants.

I am a former student of that school, that is located in Moreno, 28 km away from Recife. That's where I've lived as a teenager and where I finished high school. Now, I make a point of going back there and work for it as a volunteer. It is grateful to know that your former teachers are now your fellows, your equals, but the students are also your equals. Thus, by transitivity, I see that in fact teachers and students are equal, but they are attached to a hierarchical and disciplinary structure that discharacterizes that egalitarian relationship. But this is a subject for another post.

I choose to play with programming with the students. Programming is part of my work. But it also makes part of a passion that revolutionized my life and opened many doors. I don't know whether doors will be open in the same way for all that students, but surely the doors of the mind will be reconfigured. However, it was not the main reason for which I went there.

When you go out high school, you still learn. You learn a lot. You become an adult, and it is just the begining. You thus understand how you learn well and how you learn not so well. You learn that you have to learn uninterruptedly to do your work better and better. You learn what awaits you when you put your feet in the world. When you have to get by. There are so many new things that I can't be quiet, instead of comfortable with my work. I want to share what I've seen in my new world. A little bit of this new world that includes to know that everyone can learn with a facilitator, a mentor who is also your equal, who can speak your language, who PLAYS with you, who empathizes with you, who has the needed experience to orient, but who has not the many vices that prejudices and undermine the facilitation proccess.

This present year, different from what happened in 2012, I decided to use online resources to play with programming. The school's structure is precarious and there's low internet bandwidth available for everyone. I had to bring with myself a home router so that the students could connect to do the activities, but it was not enough. Some of them did not manage to connect despite many attempts to do so. This was kind of frustrating. A lesson was learned: improve planning to set up a better structure next time. On the other hand, I see that we got out from nothing at all to a learning session that had the most part of the attendees excited for playing with programming and having regulated learning experiences that were... Fun! Exciting! That made us to stay in the classroom long after the estimated time was up so much that I had to lunch a cold food after ignoring the successive warns that my former teacher made. I just couldn't! I was playing too!

The interaction was one of the most interesting things. Between one laughter and another of the Red Bird, I could see in the face of the students the real meaning of epic win that Jane McGonigal cites in his classic TED Talk. The students' exultation for beating the challenges was both visible and audible. And if they often lack motivation, pursuing activities that stimulate this kind of feeling, of epic win, is an auspicious way to experiment.

I hope to repeat that experiment soon. To reach more students. To go beyond. To have them search for information more deeply and, while interacting with one another, manage to promote experiences that culminate with the construction of their own new, mature, deep and interconnected knowledge. For me to be able to facilitate and dive myself in the learn of this proccess is one of the great pleasures I have in my life.

Why I chose to help EVP in Brazil

Company Blogs 17. März 2014 Von Cleydyr de Albuquerque Staff

Recently, Liferay Brazil decided to start the Employee Volunteer Plan (EVP) in its office. As you have learned, its a project to sponsor employee participation in social causes for which he or she can receive either a pecuniary grant to support a nonprofit or be given some work hours to work for humanitarian causes. All you have to do is choose who you'll help, describe why your help is relevant and submit your request.

When the invitation for me to help EVP was made, I was hesitant. Some events made me think that I was not able to take such responsability. But I was encouraged. And I started to believe again that I can help make something good happen by moving the few dozens of people that composes our staff and their network. Now nothing is more strong inside me than hope, maybe curiosity.
 
During the first online meeting with the project directors in the USA, they asked me why I have accepted to help EVP. I didn't know by the time how to tell them. Maybe because of my not so eloquent spoken English. But I know what I could have been with no study and support. I remembered a brief speech I made some months ago for a small but avid audience in one of the poorest neighborhoods of my home city, Jaboatão dos Guararapes. I told them my destiny could have been totally different, if I were drowned by the flow of poverty, but people believed me. And a dream is becoming true with several little goals being fulfilled throughout that journey.

I told Dennis and Charles I applied because I knew a little what are the needs this project aims to supply (because I've already be in it) and I have been involved in volunteerism for a while. I know what is to be in the streets, sleep in the streets, beg for money. I know what a huge difference it makes when someone dedicates some time to you. It made a huge difference for me.  
 
When I talk to kids and I let them speak, I see myself in them. I see my dreams once I had. I see that they have the strength to change their destinies, but they need that their horizons be expanded for beyond the mud, the sewage and the violence that makes their quotidian landscape.
 
And I think that we work so hard. We make things that works well. That make people's lives easier. But, one day, your technology may be obsolete. Your work will fade in time. Nevertheless, when you change a life your work is perennial. It will multiply itself among other lives that will be touched by your example. That is what EVP shall foment. A work that we can bring with us and, at the same time, we can leave it to grow like a living seed.

And you. What have you been sowing?
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