Alcatel-Lucent Foundation Blog: Building a Better Future for Young Girls and Boys in Brazil
A few days ago I was asked to do a virtual interaction with three young students from ConnectEd Brazil, the signature program of the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation. The idea was to do a mentoring session where I could share my experiences and answer questions from the youngsters. As it turned out, I ended up being the one who learned the most, was moved and felt inspired by their life stories and enthusiasm.
According to Sabrina, a 17 years-old student who wants to become a professional in audiovisual production, the ConnectEd program has changed her life. “The teachers and counselors from Instituto Aliança –the local partner organization for ConnectEd Brazil– helped me get a better job which is great. But more importantly, I now have a life project. I have learned that if I plan my future and work hard, I can accomplish anything I want.”
ConnectEd in Brazil works with young people from low-income families in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, who are enrolled in or graduated from formal secondary schools. Under ConnectEd, Instituto Aliança provides youth with access to a range of vocational training courses, work immersion experiences and work placement opportunities. The program also has a strong emphasis on information communication technology to ensure that youth develop relevant skills to enter the workforce. More than 1,600 young girls and boys have benefited from the program since it was launched three years ago.
But for me, more than the very important knowledge and skills that the students acquire through the program, it is the confidence and sense of empowerment that will have the biggest impact in their lives. Take Lucas, for example. He has been interested in computers and technology since he was very young, but before entering ConnectEd he felt that his main obstacles were poverty and lack of opportunities. Thanks to the program, he now has a better understanding of his capabilities and is fully confident in his future, and he even designed a computer game to showcase his career plan. With great enthusiasm, Lucas told me about his studies in digital gaming and his aspirations to get a job working with computers.
Before we started the session, Mazze Sequeira, ConnectEd coordinator, had told me that Nalesca, the third student, was a bit shy and may not had much to say. But I was pleasantly surprised by the spark in her eyes and the huge smile beaming on my screen as she described how she was very lucky to work with teachers that believed in her and motivate her all the time. “I was afraid to look for a job, but Mazze encouraged me to apply, and I’m now working at a chocolate store in a shopping mall. I’ve made a lot of friends and feel great about myself.”
They say that you can peak into the future by observing young people. Based on my interactions with Sabrina, Lucas and Nalesca, I now know that the future is bright! And I feel very proud by the work that the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation and its partners World Education and Instituto Aliança are doing in Brazil by helping these and many other youngsters expand their horizons and fulfill their dreams.
ConnectEd is the global signature program of the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation. ConnectEd is designed to address factors limiting the work and life options of disadvantaged youth, with an emphasis on girls and women. The program has better prepared 17,866 young people from marginalized communities for the world of work, and currently operates in Australia, Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia.