Help a Brazilian Student Complete Her Degree

£745 of £10,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 14 days
Created November 30, 2018
Amanda is a Brazilian master’s student who may not be able to complete her master’s programme in Europe due to the financial circumstances of her home country. She is seeking to break the cycle of dependency that many others from the Global South face: being forced to work laborious jobs without opportunity for higher education or advancement. Through hard work and perseverance, Amanda overcame the odds to earn an undergraduate education and a place on this prestigious master’s programme (Global Markets, Local Creativities). Just to apply, she had to pay three months of her working wages - a high fee exclusive to those from the Global South due to poor exchange rates. Immediately upon arrival to the UK she secured a job, working the maximum number of hours her student visa allowed while also balancing extensive studies. Still, due to the dismal exchange rate of Brazilian currency, Amanda does not have enough savings to cover next semester’s tuition costs. Although she knew this was a possibility before arriving to the UK, she knew she had to try and break the cycle of dependency. If you help Amanda, you are not only helping one lone student; you are helping Brazil, and you are supporting open doors for subsequent Global South students who just need one chance to prove their potential to the world. If you’d like to hear more about Amanda’s journey, please read the full story below.

My story:

I’ll never forget the feeling of elation in my chest as I held the letter from Sao Paulo State University for my undergraduate degree. I had been accepted! I would be the first person in my family to go to university and have opportunities to pursue a buoyant career. Everyone in my house cheered with delight until my father brought us back to reality.

“Sure, Amanda,” my father said. “Go to university. We just don’t know how long we can afford to keep you there.”

My heart sank to my stomach, the elated feeling disappearing as quickly as it had arrived. Of course he was right. If I chose to embark on this journey, things would not be easy. Simply being accepted into the university was not enough - I’d have to earn my degree not just through studying, but by working many hours to supplant what little my parents could contribute. My circumstances made me feel like an imposter, that I didn’t deserve to go to school. Poisonous thoughts swirled through my mind of how much money I would have to invest into living expenses that could go toward improving my family’s quality of life.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I stormed into the kitchen, seeking brief reprieve from the reality of my situation. I grabbed a trimming of rosemary off of the shelf and inhaled, hoping the earthy scent would calm my senses. It was a Brazilian superstition my mother taught me; supposedly rosemary had the ability to absorb one’s doubts and fears from the mind, and once one casted away the tainted herb, her troubles would disappear as well.

While in that moment my problems were not so easily spongeable, I did feel calmer as I collected my thoughts. I remembered why my father was wrong. My parents, my grandparents, and many generations prior have been caught in a cycle of dependency. None of them had pursued a formal education, and thus they had limited employment opportunities that left our family in perpetual financial hardship. The only provisional solution was to work harder in laborious jobs to make ends meet. As the oldest of my siblings, I told myself for years that I would be the one to break that cycle; I would be the first to pursue a higher education, acquire a skilled job and dig myself and my family out of that hole of austerity. To do that, I had to finish schooling--and to finish schooling, I had to pay.

In the following years I worked hard. I balanced work and studies. I persevered, and eventually I graduated. My goals finally became a reality when I began working a variety of jobs--first at an NGO, then at a municipality for economic development and tourism, and finally in the private sector where I coordinated business planning solutions.

During this time, my range of jobs supported not only myself but my family. My brother and sister had decided they would go to university as well, and we took turns keeping our family financially afloat. I had a fiance, whose family I also helped support. While at first it felt fulfilling to help all of my loved ones in this way, as the years passed I began to feel weighed down by everyone’s dependence on my income. It was suffocating, especially when I began to desire switching my career path to teaching entrepreneurship. To achieve this dream I had to study more so that I could do more. Yet how could I? If I stopped working to study a new field, or left the country to pursue better job prospects, or found a teaching job in Brazil that did not make as much money as my current job, there would be a domino effect of implications for those that I loved. Not to mention the Brazilian economy was in a desperate state, with inflation spiking so high that the exchange rate for our currency in other countries was at a nadir. Soon it became evident that the path that I thought would lead to financial freedom and stability was just another web of dependency, this time with me at its center.

When I discovered the Erasmus Mundus International Master program in Global Markets and Local Creativities (GLOCAL), it seemed like divine intervention. The two-year program had a consortium of the University of Glasgow, University of Barcelona, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the University of Gottingen. Accepted students had at least three international mobility periods at these universities, and the cohort was composed of people from all over the world. Not only did it seem like an innovative program with extensive opportunities for travel, but learning about the potential for development of local and global industries was exactly the kind of education I needed to fuel my ambition of teaching entrepreneurship.

When I applied and was accepted, I couldn’t believe it. The opportunity of a lifetime was right before me, and I just had to be brave enough to embrace it. Yet again, I heard my father’s voice in my mind discouraging me. If I quit my job to pursue this program, there was no guarantee that my savings, with the terrible exchange rate for Brazilian currency, would be able to sustain me. I would have to find a job immediately upon arrival, and work as hard as I possibly could to pay for my tuition and living expenses.

In the end, my Brazilian friends were the ones who helped me make the decision; they bought my plane ticket to Scotland, and insisted that I serve as proof that it was possible for Brazilians to overcome economic circumstances to find success abroad. If I didn’t at least give it a try, I would never break the cycle of dependency.

In the same week that I arrived I found a job. Each week I’ve worked the maximum amount of hours my student visa allows, while also committing myself fully to my studies. I only spend ten pounds a week on food, and do not buy anything for myself that is not essential. Yet I still find myself struggling, and at this point I cannot afford next semester’s tuition and expenses. That is why I am reaching out to you. I feel a pit of dread in my stomach as I face the possibility of not being able to graduate. I’ve applied for loans and grants, but my Brazilian nationality keeps me barred from accessing funds easily available to European students. I have spoken to every institution that could possibly help, and am turned away at every door.

The only thing giving me hope is my amazing programme cohort: 48 students who graciously banded together to help me create this fundraising effort. These people from 26 different cultures and countries, who have known me for all of two months, have dedicated their time and pooled their resources to fight for my right to education.

In the process, my cohort has helped me realize that there is a bigger picture here, that this situation goes beyond one single Brazilian student. There are tens of thousands of Global South students just like me, with dreams of earning a higher education who aren’t given the chance because of the social and economic disenfranchisement of their developing home countries. I was fortunate enough to have been given a chance, and though my future wasn’t guaranteed, I knew I had to take the leap. If you help me, you are not just helping one lone student; you are helping Brazil, helping me bring my education back home to fuel the economy, and helping me open doors to other dedicated and driven Brazilians who just need one chance to prove their potential to the world.

Working together as a cohort, we believe we can make a difference. Securing the dream and right of students from developing countries to have access to education is our first initiative. Anything you can contribute to aid in this process is so greatly appreciated.

With all my gratitude,

Amanda Zanchetta de Aquino Raimundo
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£745 of £10,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 14 days
Created November 30, 2018
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