Monday, December 17, 2007

"We are the system"

Last weekend I participated in a 3 days Art of Hosting training lead by Toke, a guru of AoH. Was good (and needed) space for reflexion and learning, got a lot of good insights about hosting, working with people, creating change ... re-learning many things, reminding myself about others.
I´m thinking of posting a few of my notes here still, but firstly I´d like to share with you a final message by Toke.

*** *** ***

"We are the system - the system is not outside ourselves - it is our own broken relationships that need to heal - my relationship to myself, to life - to this earth - to the others - to the world - that is how systemic shifts happen.

I am the need in the world - we are the system - we are the solution. Meaningful conversations and real learning space heal our relationships.

We are invited to enter living from the heart....

From disrespect to respect - from I know better to curiousity - from judging to understanding each other- from fear to love.

This is what we need to host now between us - this is part of the Work of anyone who wants to help the world at this time."

- collective insight during Aoh in Brazil December 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Maintain the fish in the sea!

Yesterday I gave a presentation at an AIESEC seminar about my experience in working in ABN Amro Banco Real in the area of Sustainable Development. Various presentations alike where conducted that day, wherein one a presenter brought a very simple example of what is sustainability:

- giving someone a fish, that's philantrophy
- teaching someone to fish, could be referred to as a social or community investment*
- making sure that there's always fish in the sea, that's sustainability

How simple is that :)

* the presentation was made from a corporate point of view, similar deed could be considered a social entrepreneurship, depending on the actor.

Education - Estonia ranks 5th on the OECD PISA survey!

OECD’s PISA survey shows some countries making significant gains in learning outcomes.
Based on tests carried out among 400,000 students in 57 countries in 2006, the latest PISA survey focuses particularly on students’ abilities in comprehending and tackling scientific problems.
At a time when scientific and technological know-how is helping to drive growth in advanced economies, the results of PISA 2006 reveal wide variations in skills levels. Student attitudes to science will be crucial to countries’ economic potential in tomorrow’s world, and PISA 2006 gives a detailed picture of how well students around the world are prepared for the challenges of a knowledge society.
The top performer in science in PISA 2006 was Finland, followed by Hong Kong-China, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, Japan and New Zealand.

It's was not a news to me that the level of education in Estonia is very good (heh partially a legacy of the Soviet era, I guess. It had its pluses).
Being now in Brazil, which is a country of 180 million people (large!! especially in comparision to Estonia), with much higher unemployment rate and a huge number of people competing for both blue and white collar jobs, among them the around 25 000 master students that graduate each year (if I remember correctly), I often started to wonder how competitive is one with an education from a country that hardly anyone has heard of.
I think in terms of Estonian universities, we still have a few leaps to take to get ourselves on the global scene (should that ever be possible), but according to PISA, the high school education is there already.
That`s an encouraging sign especially considering the challenges Estonia faces like a lack of teachers, not very competitive pay etc.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Doctors of Happiness - see the world anew each day!

An interesting discovery lately, I hadn't heard that there exists a profession like that in Estonia: doctors of happiness!! The idea is beautiful!
Here in Brazil, you could find the doutores da alegria here.

Listen to Patch Adams (thanks, Pablo, for the reference) to know more 1, 2, there's even a movie made about him, which I'd definitely like to see!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A small victory!

Ohhhhh!! I just have to put it here!
I was chairing an AIESEC conference this weekend in Curitiba and I did it all in portuguese!!! Yeeeaaayyyy, that´s one of the really really tangible things I´ve learnt this year!

Nowadays, at meetings or listening to some presentations, I remember how a year ago being in a similar situation I barely got an idea of what was going on! And now, I actually get it and I am able to actively participate in more or less similar terms with others! You can´t (or maybe you can) imagine how good it feels right now (and how challenging it was in the beginning)!!

And about the AIESEC conference - was really really great to be there with a new generation of members. I told them there in the closing plenary that I probably will stay involved in AIESEC forever - this crowd (and people alike) just really inspire me!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The update

This one will be shortly to cover what I've been up to in the last month or so! Just figured if I don't write it now, it might take a while when I get to it again!

So firstly, I'm still in Brazil, and will still stay a bit ;), which is exciting news from my personal point of view since I totally love what I'm doing!

- Therefore, one of the key things this last month, I guess, was going to Uruguay in the end of July/beginning of August to apply for a new visa. I got an offer from the company to stay until January, so just one thing missing was the visa.
Huh, crazy stuff! You might already imagine (especially if you are from any 'exotic' country like India, Ghana etc), but the visa process really is a pain! For the type of visa that I have (trainee visa) it's a bit easier, but still. In the end, persistance and a lucky star (Felipe!!! who mentioned me the Uruguay-option) proved to work out well and I returned from Uruguay with a new visa!

- And since I was already in Uruguay, I stopped in Buenos Aires for a weekend! Magnificient! You have to go there!!!

- After coming back to work, everything got kinda a new start, except for me on an whole new level. I can actually feel myself more or less equal with others and comfortable with working in Portuguese, which is a conquest, really!! And comfortable with working in an organization that has in just our building 4000 people (it took me a while...I honestly was rather lost in the beginning).
Have got a few new projects started, and it's really really exciting. Some days staying in the office 12 hrs, but's great stuff! Check out some of our sustainability action in the latest report. And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

- Outside of work, I've got involved with the Pioneers of Change network, and should you be interested in going through a great learning experience on sustainability and visit Brazil, keep in mind the dates of 1st - 8th of December this year, when the Global Journey of PoC will take place.

- Oh and another great great experience has been building the Hub with Pablo and Henrique and many more people involved. It's pretty much the first stage of action right now and we are literally building it ourselves... or should is say de-building :))
Right now it's the destruction phase of 500 sqm space, which then will procede to a design and actual construction (by proffessionals :)) phase. We've been out there quite a few weekends alreay. The work is about clearing the space, breaking walls, tearing down ceilings and taking all the trash out - um tabalho bem pesado!! But it's really fun!! I want to write more about it!

- After Uruguay/Argentina I moved to live with Zoe! It's been great, not only as I get faster to work and have a nice view from the balcony :)), but mostly and more importantly because the similar experience we share here in Brazil and the opportunities we have to learn from each other. The discussions we have had so far, have already helped me personally a lot. So I'm really satisfied and excited! And at the same time I would like to say thanks for Pir, my previous house mate, the year together was great! I still get a few good smiles thinking back to that time :))

- Related to moving and the fact that our building has a gym (and a pool!) downstairs, I'm trying to go to the gym more regularly, at least twice a week is the goal. I was guite good on this for about 6 months, until in May my old gym pass expired, so I kinda stopped, but there I go again ;).
Actually, this week I went just once, but I think the 2 days working in the Hub will do for gym this week!

- Some travels (other than the Uruguay trip) have been exciting snapshots out of the daily things. Last weekend we went to Belo Horizonte (8 hrs by bus!) to visit some AIESEC friends there. Was really really nice...heheh especially the Zeze and Luciano show in Pará de Minas!
And next weekend I´ll be travelling to Curitiba to chair a local AIESEC conference there, thus things to look forward to!

- Oh and I went to see an astrologist. A friend recommended. And it fact it was really interesting experience, I never really ... hmm.. how to say, trusted these kind of things, but I was surprised to recognize how many things actually made a good sense to me.
I came out more secure about a few things and more clear about others, so yeah I think it was a good and interesting experience. Not sure I'd necessarily go again...One thing I realized that if I trust myself and take these necessary moments to put things in the right perspective, then I make pretty "right" decisions (if such thing as right or wrong exists at all, in this sense).

I think, that's all for now. I still have many things in mind to write about, but I hope to keep posting these as I go along.

I'm happy and content regarding the way things are going and have gone so far. Come to think about it, I meant now more of the professional things, work, also friends. On the personal level, regarding relationships and all, it's been quite "interesting", quite some things happening for me personally, just not sure how that end turns out in some time. Let's see.

Out beyond the ideas ...

'Out beyond the ideas of right-doing or wrong-doing there is a field- I'll meet you there', Rumi, 13th century Sufi poet.

Amazing words, get you thinking don't they!
My room mate Zoe mentioned Rumi the other day (dont remember what we were talking about), the words struck me the moment I heard them, just didn't know he (Rumi) has been an inspiration for a quite a few ... peace builders and conflict resolvers Out Beyone Ideas for example...

PS: I know an update of the blog has been long overdue...It's on it's way :))

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Can compassion and capitalism go-exist?

Yes, they can, says John Sage from Pura Vida - a fair trade coffee company - in his speech for Staford Social Innovation Review.
Listen to the speech here for inspiration!!!
And do your part!

Friday, May 25, 2007

"It is like that because it has always been like that"

It was freezing outside today! +5 degrees...brhhh...I know it's nothing compared to the Estonian winters that sometimes reach up to minus (actually down to!) 30, yet it's soooo cold compared to the 30ies we have had here for the last 6 month or more. Nice and warm, which I've very much got used to already.

Not to mention, it's 25th of May!
It doesn't feel like 25th of May...funny...May always has this sentiment of blossoms, spring, warmth, growth, new beginnings etc.
And I'm here, it's May and it's cold; cold like September! It's really weird to experience how the time, the date, the month of the year doesn't feel like they have pretty much always felt like! And it's not as simple as only need to think a bit more to realize how many associations are connected to this small fact.

For example,
I have a Brazilian friend who has a b-day in May. Earlier, when I found out, it brought the exact May-feeling to my mind! You know, of a spring child! And now it's May and it's cold. Twisted!
Sometimes, when writing a date etc, I really need to remind myself what date or time of the year it is, because the time seems kinda..."timeless"!

The same with Christmas and New Years. The last ones went missing actually. It just didn't seem like a Christmas nor New Years with 30 degrees outside laying on the beach. Being in the middle of all the decorations and stuff just felt like being on a stage that is set up for Christmas almost in the middle of summer.

This simple stuff brought me thinking (again) today, how many things could possibly be there that I take for granted, that I am sooo used to that I don't even notice to wonder about. Yeah, with weather it's simple - it feels cold in May and thus it is immediately different from "normal".
How about the mindsets, attitudes, stereotypes created by the daily experiences and situations where I never might not take another angle to look at it from.

I am glad though, I have so far had quite a few opportunities to look at things from other here in Brazil is just another one of these opportunities.

Sifaan (my Sri Lankan teammate with whom we worked together for 1 year in AIESEC), among many others, I have to thank you as well for different angles and perspectives. The title of this posting was inspired by you! I can even hear you saying that :))), stress on the word "always" :)))

Another bit from the past: bunch of us went for our first international conference in AIESEC, to Norway in 2000, Nordic Management Seminar it was. Great experience by all means. An inspiration I brought home was a sentence from one of the sessions, which said "Nothing is normal, everything is possible". I wrote it with black marker on an A4 paper and sticked it to my dormitory wall in Uni afterwards. Kept it there for a while...hmm...I wonder if I still have it packed somewhere....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Different morning

I woke up on Monday morning, and the morning was different! Like really different!! It felt like a early summer morning in Estonia, fresh, cool, exciting! But it was not about the weather, it was the feeling I had!! I still have it, and I am excited!

And I actually don't know where it came from!? Maybe cos I had been sick the whole last week (dengue like my colleagues were joking!), and now I finally got better. Or maybe cos I had supernice weekend, quiet, watching a few good movies with good people. Or maybe it was these 2 kilos that I had been trying (actually more like hoping, not trying too hard) to lose, but didn't manage otherwise than getting sick and not being able to eat much other than garlic and honey :))). Or maybe it was these bare 4 hours that I slept the night before, cos of my little movie marathon...
hmm...don't know!

On the top of this, Elina sent me a new design of our homepage (it's gonna be niiccee, great job Elina and Triini!), work is going well, and I'm looking forward to what's coming up in the next months!!

Surfed around in my mailbox and found a few good thoughts that seem to go with my mood right now:

QUOTE of the WEEK:"It seems to me that people have vast potential. Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don't. They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever." Philip Adams

Believing in You
By Catherine Pulsifer, © 1997

Never stop believing in yourself.
When others doubt, don't you.
Do what you love to do,
No one knows better than you.

Life is too short to live others' dreams
Follow your own dream
Push yourself to reach your goals
And live the life you once dreamed.

Trust your instincts.
Be true to yourself.
You know what is right for you.
Never give up or give in.

Forget the words "I don't know how".
You can learn,
You can research,
You can do.

Your mind is powerful.
When you believe you can.
You will find a way
You won't waste a day.

Persist and persevere
Do not fear
Because if you believe in you
You will find dreams can come true.

May all your dreams turn into goals, (ok that one I dont quite agree with, but...)
Believe in yourself.
And remember, all of life is a choice.
The decision is up to you.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Alive and kicking :))

huuuhh my last post was in December!!! A while ago! Not that I haven't had anything to write about, way toooo many things!! Just always seems there are so many better things to do than to sit in front of the laptop/PC screen (which I do anyway at least 8 hrs a day).
haah like today! I was to go out, but the plan changed so I thought I get myself together to write a little update.

Sometimes it feels I wouldn't know where to start exactly, cos it's just too many things, not all pink and cheesy, it's been quite tough every now and then. The biggest challenge (I think...well at least so far :)) that I have faced during my stay in Brazil has been: how to contribute at the workplace and the job to the extent that I am professionally used to at the same time overcoming the obstacles such as:
– working in another cultural environment (not knowing the way of working and the people, and the organization and its structures etc etc)
– working in another language (although most people speak English, the work is in Portuguese, including meetings etc. and I didn't know any Portuguese before I game)
– working in an industry – banking – and in an organization that I was not familiar with before, but which require a lot of time and energy to get to know to (it's huuugeeee, imagine an organization of 30 000 people. PS. and that's only Brazil!)

I had and still have high expectations for myself, since I have been working professionally for about 4-5 years, out of which considerable time with an area that I love – sustainable development and corporate responsibility - and I expected not to be just a trainee, but be equal to all other employees in regards of the contribution that I make.
All the obstacles in mind, it has not been an easy task for me to demonstrate the capacity, skills and knowledge I have. There has been maaaany moments that I felt down and unable to meet the expectations that I had for myself in the limited time available.
It's gone better now, mainly along the improvements with Portuguese :))) (Gee...I had forgotten what it means to learn a new language and to actually be able to use it in daily working life!! English seems soooo easy now.)

Some things I remind myself (thanks to the people who contributed to the process, the "life support" was really important :)):

- Don't give up – I remind myself of my expectations and I don't need to lower them, but just need to walk the same path: keep learning and moving onwards
- Take a loooooot of initiative and network (talk to different people, get to know them and their work, push them to involve me etc.), because for most of people I am just a trainee from a foreign country that noone really knows anything about, let alone the fact that people at workplace wouldn't also know what to expect from me.
- Actively demonstrate the added value I can bring, show my work to even more people that is the immediate necessity etc...

So it has been a journey of personal and professional learning for me, with ups and downs, but now I am happy. I've made sense of things around and inside me a bit more, and I am working on it every day. I'd say I am satisfied.