One of the most rewarding facets of volunteering with Pack for a Purpose is hearing success stories from our global partners and their communities. This year, our Brazilian education partner, Mais Caminhos language school, is happy to share two stories that will inspire you. Mais Caminhos, which translates from Portuguese as “more ways”, offers English language lessons to students from the local Rio de Janeiro community. Two inspiring graduates are taking the skills they’ve learned here in Brazil and creating more pathways and more opportunities for themselves and for future students.
This July, 17-year-old Pérola completed a two-week exchange program in London, where she is really getting to test out her English skills with native speakers across the pond. Setting her sights on a career in the arts, Pérola has fond memories of her teachers and classmates at Mais Caminhos. Having studied there since 2019, Pérola recalls volunteering at the Mais Caminhos summer camp last January when she had the chance to lead activities for the neighborhood children. In the classroom, she credits teacher Andrew with really making a difference in her life and offers this advice to younger learners, “studying the English language needs a lot of time, patience, and savings.”
Pérola definitely used all three during her exchange program and hopes to keep using her English in the future. “One of my main goals is to be admitted to a U.S. university because I want to study international relations and I want to experience some things that university student life provides,” she proudly declared. When she returns from her study abroad program in the U.K., Pérola will have her hands full as she begins studying for the SAT test. But she’s taking the advice she is giving to younger language learners, “Don’t give up on your goals and what you really want. And trust the process.” Wise words from someone so young, and her advice tells me that Pérola is already on the way to success.
Another Mais Caminhos graduate who has already made his way is Davi. Taking his language skills all the way to Europe, Davi has his goals set high. Speaking both Portuguese and English, Davi has immersed himself in France and hopes to add the French language to his list of skills. Now in his twenties, Davi began studying at Mais Caminhos when he was a teenager and has a special relationship with the school in Rio.
Throughout his youth, Davi and his siblings lived in a local Rio orphanage. Along this difficult path, Davi started taking English language lessons at Mais Caminhos in an effort to find work and prepare himself to support his younger siblings. While Davi left the orphanage at age 18, his younger siblings were still there and were eventually separated in 2014 when the orphanage closed. With the financial support of Mais Caminhos, Davi was able to navigate the challenging legal system in Brazil and adopt his youngest sibling who is now studying at Mais Caminhos.
Davi has proven to be a role model, not just for his younger siblings, but for the entire Mais Caminhos school community. He has volunteered at the site in Rio and hopes to motivate younger students to keep studying and achieve their goals.
“At first, I was a little bit frustrated because I couldn’t communicate with people that didn’t speak Portuguese, but then I realized I was developing and that is what gives me a lot of the motivation to continue,” he beamed during our interview. He credits his “very strict” teacher, Diana with inspiring him to study hard and keep up his education at Mais Caminhos. He even offers the same advice to younger students, encouraging them to immerse themselves in the language through music, conversation, and whatever they can do. “Don’t worry about your mistakes – that’s normal. People will understand you if you are really trying, and English is important for life. Of course, if you go to a different continent that doesn’t speak English, it’s good to learn their language, but first, you have to open the door and you can do that by trying to speak English.”
Amazing advice from someone so young! Davi is opening doors over in France and hopes to get experience in the travel and tourism industry to bring back to his native Brazil. When I asked him about his future career plans he hopes to open a travel agency back in Rio de Janeiro. “I worked as a tour guide in Rio and it was really fun and I was really happy to meet people from all over the world. I want to open my own business and show my city. For now, I want to discover a new culture, save some money, and when I go back, I’ll have more experience to do that in Brazil.” There is no doubt in my mind that Davi will be a success in Brazil, or wherever he continues to pave his way.
Our work, in partnership with Mais Caminhos and many other community organizations around the world, continues to create opportunities for students like Pérola and Davi. When packing for your next trip, whether for business or pleasure, consider partnering with Pack for a Purpose!