Finally, I finished packing. We were about to travel to the beach, but I was mostly thrilled about the traveling part. With the CD playing and my feet on the car's window, I felt like I was in the next Maroon 5 music video. My father gave a crooked smile as he saw me tunelessly singing some meaningless combination of words that to me was perfect English. When the music was over, he turned the volume down and I knew he had seen something unusual that would begin one of our debates.
Whenever one of us saw something that caught our attention, we would provoke the other with a theme, whether it be talking about the man on the side of the road, or what sort of life does the woman in the toll booth live. Even if we did not always have the same opinion on certain matters, this cherished ritual had always connected us and we were pleased to agree to disagree about it. At one point I was struck by a street vendor eating on the corner, and my imagination went loose. He spent eight hours a day standing on the roadway trying to earn the money for tomorrow's lunch, while I was going to the beach with my family. How was this fair? Inevitably, it led us to discuss social inequality, ways to decrease it and possibilities for change.
Until then, the debates were only for our diversion, but that man struggling to make a living made me feel as if it was our duty to help him, something my father did not agree for thinking that man was the only responsible for changing his own life. Thus, I started to ponder how I could convince someone whose opinions were already set that I, with no life experience, could be right? How could I persuade him to be open to my ideas and take them seriously into consideration? And that made me uneasy.
Everyone has the right to a better life, he just did not had an opportunity. The comfort we live within our society makes it easy to ignore other realities due to the bubble we choose to stay in. Then, should I get used to it? No. Every impactful change came from people who did not get used to the status quo, but tried to change it. Suddenly, convincing my father or others was not a big deal anymore, but influencing them to join me became my purpose. I felt I should to do my part leading by example, and that would be the strong message to my father that I needed.
After unsuccessful attempts looking for a NGO that I related to, l decided to create a literacy project for lowincome adults called “Pequenos Passos” - Little Steps in English - in partnership with a homeless shelter. With the project, I got some teachers to help me teach my students how to read, write their own names and understand the importance of being able to communicate ourselves. Knowledge everyone should be entitled to know. A semester later, we had already helped more than thirty people and, since then, it was clear to me that the little I could do would actually make a difference. I had never developed a project from scratch before, and it became the beginning of something truly meaningful.
Unconsciously, those road trips full of melodies and arguments created a passion for persuasion inside me and this insignificant game that we played stimulated my intellectual curiosity. Pequenos Passos made me understand that words cannot make a huge difference, but they have the potential to become actions there are capable of real social changes. Gradually, I discovered this could be my way to help not only one man, but many people. To be a solution by influencing movements, communities, or even cultures through my voice is what I needed to pursue.
Now I have received the news that I was accepted at NYU - my dream school. Majoring in Media, Communication and Culture in the middle of Manhattan was the fresh start that I needed to continue to learn and develop myself as an individual. As a Brazilian, being in a college so far from home in one of the largest cities in the world can be scary. But the thought of not being able to go due to the high costs scares much more. Therefore, I need $ 100,000 to make this dream come true and start learning how to become the person I want to be. Thank you for being part of this journey. Thank you for making the difference.