To all the people that keep policing others about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Everyone know what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is. To raise awareness to a serious disease, people are challenged to throw a bucket of icy water on their bodies or encouraged to donate money to develop research and treatments. For those of you who don’t know how serious ALS is, this is the ALSA description of the sickness:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.” 

It should all be very simple, get wet and/or donate, until social media pricks started questioning it and speaking out about how things “should be done”. This is some of the ideas some people shared against the challenge, and my take on each one:

1) America is wasting tones of water, meanwhile in Africa people struggle with thirst. 

I agree with the idea behind this statement, which is: don’t waste something that others need to survive. But, at the same time, I can’t help but wonder why thirst in Africa is somehow a more important issue than contributing to find a treatment or a cure for ALS. How do we evaluate which cause is more pressing? And why do we feel entitled to criticize people that choose one cause over the other?

More importantly, if you really want to criticize the way people waste water, let’s agree that this one bucket per person will not make a huge difference in the long run. Tackling daily situations where you could be saving water and making it a priority is a better way to go, since its something that can and should be done every single day. What would make a huge difference overall is:

– don’t use your dishwasher or washing machine when it’s only half full;

– don’t spend more than 15 minutes in the shower, there’s no need for that;

– don’t let the water running on the sink while you brush your teeth;

– check your house and work place for leaks regularly.

For more tips, check out the Water Use It Wisely website. They have more than 100 ideas of little things you can introduce to your routine to really use water wisely.

2) ALS is a serious debilitating disease, don’t waste water. Just donate, they really need it. 

The other day a facebook friend posted a video of a woman showing off pieces of paper with facts about ALS and arguing that they need a donation more than they need a bucket of icy water dumped on your head. On her last frame, she sows off a hundred dollar bill saying that would be her donation for the cause. If you refuse to take the challenge because you have the means to make a donation and you prefer to do it, good for you.That’s awesome that you can contribute this way. But do you have to publicize it on social media and make a statement that your donation is more important then the acts of all the other people that helped raise awareness to the illness? I personally feel it is incredibly rude to imply that those that froze their entire bodies are greedy people that are not willing to make a donation. Other people may not have the money, so they dumped the icy water and promoted it on social media, challenging others to do it. Others that might be willing to make a donation, no matter the amount, and continue to spread the word. Each person helps the way they can, donating because you have the means doesn’t make you better than anyone.

3) ALS is important, but so are other diseases such as cancer, ms, and etc. Why are you not making a donation to them?

We all understand there is several serious illnesses that debilitate and kill human beings daily. And there is several other organizations that need donations to fund researches and treatments. By making a donation or raising awareness to one specific disease or one specific organization people are choosing to support a cause, not dismissing or forgetting there is others to be supported. Individuals can’t embrace the world and solve all the problems at the same time. But they can step up and help one cause when there’s an opportunity or a new campaign. Nobody needs you telling them there’s other causes out there, and making them feel bad about choosing one.

My point with this text is to tell all the people that keep policing others on social media and making their savvy comments that some things don’t need to be criticized or combated or challenged. They just need to run its course. It’s ok to be part of the mainstream sometimes, just join the trend. To me, this is one of the times we should be celebrating the power of social media and a well crafted marketing campaign to raise awareness to an organization and a disease. We should be pointing out that by some reason so many people came together and dumped feeling waters on themselves as a sign of solidarity, generosity and humanity. How beautiful is that?

 

Reposted from I AM not the MEdia: Why teach teens and young adults about media literacy

As some of you know, I am currently working as Public Relations Coordinator at a Charlottean non-profit called I AM not the MEdia, Inc. One of my duties has been to revive and update their blog, which I gladly do every week. Sometimes, at the expense of not publishing anything here. This is one of the blog posts I published on our blog. It is meant to raise awareness to the importance of our mission, which is to teach teens and young adults about media literacy, helping them read the news and use social media in a critical way. I thought maybe it would be cool to repost it here for you guys as well. Here it goes:

I AM not the MEdia: Why teach teens and young adults about media literacy 

 

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Studying the psychosocial development of a person’s life cycle, Erik Erikson described adolescence as the stage of identity versus identity confusion. Between the ages of 13 and 19, teens are more likely to be influenced by their peers and their environment, often changing and experimenting different behaviors and activities while looking for answers about who they are and how they fit in society. Adolescents experience newly concerns about how they appear to others and start making their own decisions, despite how they were raised. One’s ideologies are now chosen by themselves, which often leads to conflicts with adults over political and religious orientations. Aptitudes and dreams are considered while choosing a career or a role in society, something that can lead to conflicts when parents feel the need to control and influence their child’s decision.True self discovery and identity comes when one reconciles with who you came to be in opposition with what society expects one to become. Also, it comes when one finds balance regarding what aptitudes he has and what he is going to do with it. These are important aspects of themselves teens need to figure out before entering adulthood.

On average, teens are exposed to the media 10 hours and 45 minutes per day, which includes engaging on social media, watching TV and playing video games. Considering teenagers are avid media consumers, one can only wonder at what extend the images and behaviors depicted by the media can influence teenagers, young adults and viewers in general. Sexuality, relationships, body image are some of the themes that seem to impact teens the most.

I AM not the MEdia, Inc. develops workshops for teens about media literacy believing that talking about unhealthy and risky behaviors and how they are portrayed on the media is the best way to provide teens with valuable information to be critical viewers of the media and informed decision makers. Ultimately, we give teens tools to think for themselves about how they want to be seen by others and what behaviors they can change to achieve their goals. We also work to send a strong message for people to embrace their individuality and uniqueness, hoping to build self esteem and their love for themselves.

Working for this organization has been such a challenge, and such a joy… Hopefully this post will help you guys see why.

 

Living abroad: three advices to make your life easier

My husband is american and after we got married I went through a lot of adjustments when moving from Brazil to the US. Some were easier than others, but I learned a lot from each experience I had. I thought sharing it may help others on adapting to a new country, language and lifestyle. Here are my three advices to a smoother transition:

1. Stay in touch with your roots

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Stay in touch with friends and family is such an easier thing to do nowadays. Whatsapp, Imesssage, Skype, Viber and FaceTime are some of the technological tools and apps we all can use in our favor to talk to those who we love and know us better. They might not understand your difficulties entirely, but including them in your new life is always a way to reassure yourself that you don’t have to loose the relationships you already have to create new ones.

Something that took me a while to realize, also, was the importance of local food on our daily life. Discovering Brazilian grocery stores became a habit and I try to restock on sweetened condensed milk (to make brigadeiro) and frozen cheese breads every opportunity I have. Having that one comforting treat once in a while is a way to maintain cultural traditions I had ever since I was a kid.

Finally, since I love to read, I started purchasing more and more books written in Portuguese, so I can still practice my mother tongue and keep up to date to the literary scene in Brazil. When I get tired of speaking and writing in English, I find comfort on reading the best Brazilian prose I can find. Some people also purchase Latin TV channels that include TV stations from their countries, but to me the investment was never justified. I don’t really enjoy Brazilian TV as much as literature, so it didn’t make sense.

2. Find other expat friends

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Getting to know expats who are living in the same city as you and networking with other foreigners has two huge advantages: they can help you understand how to position your peculiar point of view about your new country’s culture as one of your professional strengths and they are very likely to understand everything you struggle with when you first arrive. Plus, there is no better people to mock your new country’s weird cultural traditions with. They probably share the same views.

3. Keep yourself busy

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Finding something to do with your free time is such an important advice. When I first got to the US, I couldn’t work because I was still waiting for my visa, so I stayed home for longs periods of time. The feeling of being an outsider was deepened by my loneliness, and that wasn’t helpful at all. Being so dependable of a car in Ohio was tough, but after I bought my own I started driving our dogs for parks and dog parks and getting in touch with locals that were doing the same. Having a silly chit chat while exercising my dogs was a much appreciated way to interact with others, exchange recommendations for local restaurants and grow my social network.

Those encounters are great, but more important than that is having real friends. I was lucky to become good friends with my husband’s friends, but I missed having my own. Does it sound selfish? I guess I needed a life support system that was independent from him, his friends or family. Finding a job and meeting people with common interests here in Charlotte definitely changed that feeling. Studying, attending courses and local networking events or finding local communities online, these are all things one can do to meet new people and develop new friendships. The other day, somebody posted an invitation for women to play volleyball at a Charlotean park every thursday night on a local facebook community. I thought it was a great way to connect with others. If only I could make it.

Science on the rocks: A Happy Hour at the Discovery Place

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The comment that would best describe the Science on the Rocks event, hosted at the Discovery Place in Uptown Charlotte, was made by a mom from Huntersville. She said something along the lines of “I am used to bringing my kids here, but coming without them is so much fun… I’ve already had two beers and all I can say is they should do it more often”. The Discovery Place is known as this cool science oriented museum especially designed for kids, an interactive place where you can learn more about biology, physics and astronomy. Science on the Rocks was an adult event accepting only people over 21, with bars spread around the museum. It was sort of an educative and interactive happy hour, with friends getting together to learn while playing.

On the first floor, there was a fish and sea animals exhibition, with water tanks for you to touch some of them. Ants and bugs were also exposed on a different room. One of my favorite parts was the section with musical instruments, and other cool toys. My husband preferred the catapult beer pong they installed by the cafe and bar, though.

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The main floor was even cooler. A mini lifting machine with four different seats were build to made people feel the different amount of force they needed to use to lift themselves to the top, teaching about the physical concepts of force, energy and weight. Near it, there were tables were you could design your own stop motion short film with different toys. Not to mention the Frog exhibition and the Alien Worlds and Androids, the last one displaying life sizes replicas of Star Wars’s  C3PO and Iron Man. In the same section, there was a room displaying footage of how NASA uses tones to analyze planets, their chemical components and the possibility of having aliens living there.

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The main complain was the 45 minutes line to get to the bars. There was 4, 2 in each floor of the museum, but they weren’t enough to handle the amount of people attending the event. Overall, a very fun entertaining and educative night. They definitely need to do it more often.

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Lean In: How to be a powerful and influential woman in the workplace

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Since I moved to Charlotte, 3 months ago, I have been attending different networking events to get to know more people in the area. I want to know people like me, who are very passionate about empowering women, having a positive impact in the community and creating media content that stimulates people to think critically. Other ex-pats who have multiple backgrounds and know how to use their diversity into their advantage when it comes to the workplace.

Last thursday was my first time joining the Lean In discussion group. The title of the meeting was Power, Influence and Violence, and we had two discussion topics:

1. Power and influence in the office: ​How body language, speech and actions can affect your authority and approachability.

2. Power, influence and violence in our lives: Constructing valuable dialogs​

Our discussion started with how you position yourself during meetings to best achieve your goal and be heard by your peers in different industries and how you alternate authority and approachability roles according to the circumstances. That itself was such a life lesson, I left the meeting thinking and reenacting all the professional encounters I had where I felt that I could have been more emphatic about my point of view, but I didn’t force the issue because I didn’t want to be perceived as another bitchy woman.  I came to the conclusion that most of the times I hold my tongue to maintain the idea that I am a pleasant person, open to dialogue and willing to give in to sustain a peaceful working atmosphere. But, at the same time, behaving like that might have prevented me from showing others how confident I am in myself and my ability to do a good job. I might have, unintentionally, played low for too long. And just by having the notion that this was something I need to work on is so important for my professional development.

The conversation took us on to so many other topics that relates to how women are viewed by others in society, how the media portrays us and what we can do as women to help others succeed, starting for instance on how you educate your kids. In a way, things I am more familiar with discussing.

Overall, an awesome night with awesome powerful, educated, influential women whose ultimate goal is the same: succeed in their careers. I left wanting to know more about Lean In – Women, work and the will to lead, a book written by Sheryl Sanberg which is the main reason this meeting exists, and the Levo League, an international community to empower professional women that recently open up a Local office in Charlotte.

Love, naturally

There is a Brazilian popular song called “Deixa Acontecer [let it happen]”, by Revelação, that tells the story of a couple who is in different syncronies: the girl is madly in love with the guy, but he doesn’t feel the same way, so he asks her to let love happen naturally, to have patience and he promises he will overcome his fears of falling in love again with her help.

 

It may seem odd to write about a song who is not known by its poetic lyrics or by the music quality or innovation. It’s just a popular entertaining song, a huge success amongst Brazilians. Even if a Brazilian is not a fan of pagode or Revelação, there is a fair chance he or she can sing along the chorus without issues. It is catchy, oh so catchy!

Why write about it, then?

First of all, it has been on my mind since yesterday. It is stuck deep in there, so maybe it will help me forget it for a little bit. Again, catchy.

Another thing is: pedantic intellectuals would never, ever confess that sort of thing. Some people judge things exclusively according to their taste and to me this is just a waste of time, a narrow view that only reinforces what they know and like. I am not a fan of the band, or the genre for that matter, but why not give credit when its due? This song has a  very clear and contemporary message: let love happen naturally. And this is what draws me to it.

Scrolling down my facebook timeline the other day, I found a post from a very popular page called Humans of New York where a woman states that “If I feel like there’s a chance of losing someone, I’ll always try to be the one that backs out first”. If you are familiar with the page, you know they always post a picture of the person interviewed and a quote of their conversation.

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That quote stuck with me for a few days, then the song, and I felt like they had the same underlying topic: fear of relationships. It is something universal. Not to be cliche, but I am sure yesterday night at a bar somewhere two friends sat down between beers (or cosmopolitans, or caipirinhas, or martinis, or pisco sour, or merlot) and had a conversation about relationships. Maybe the guy was complaining the girl expected more than he could give, because he didn’t feel the same way. Maybe the girl was interpreting his distance as a sign that he would dump her, and she decided to break things up before getting so deep emotionally involved that she would surely get hurt. Maybe it was the other way around.

When did we become so afraid of love that we feel the need not to feel it? Or, at least, to believe that we don’t feel it. How many times after breaking up because she was too demanding or he was too sticky we come to realize that maybe we loved them all along?

When did we start putting up barriers to avoid being hurt and setting ourselves boundaries to contain our emotions?  When did we start thinking about relations strategically? Oh, if I send a text at 3 a.m saying I miss her she will misinterpret as a booty call and she will lose interest. Oh, its saturday afternoon and if I call him now to make plans for tonight I might seem too desperate. How much of life and love are we missing by taking the safer route?

Sometimes, I think we are getting it all wrong. We are letting our brain take control of things that are not measurable, touchable or reasonable. And, in the process, we lose our minds with all the variables, possibilities and interpretations we are drawn to consider before making any relationship decision. Why not let things flow more naturally? Why not follow our hearts? They are pure muscle, you know? Work it and they will only become stronger.In this sense, the song sets a good example. Yes, the guy says he is scared of falling in love, but he also asks her for help to love again and he implies that because of her help their love may grow and be eternal. Their love, not their relationship I must say. But he is willing to try, and that is all it takes. Lets it happen naturally.

My life as a Bildungsroman

Going back to work with journalism and public relations has been a self discovery journey. One that has taken me back to my roots in a way that I honestly wouldn’t think it would. It took me back to high school and pre-college school, while I was still choosing my profession. It took me back to the very root of my career, that one moment when I decided, against odds and advises, that I wanted to be a journalist. Why did I spend four years at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, again? [side note: it may call itself a catholic school, but it certainly doesn’t fit the stereotype of a pristine, uptight, conservative school, quite the opposite actually]

It all started with my passion for writing, for literature, and my desire to know things first hand. During school, differently than most of my colleagues, I got more engaged with my scientific initiation study in applied linguistics. They were going after social movements, sociology, philosophy, geography. The thing we had in common was the desire to make the world a better place, each one following one path.

Personally, I think it is ironic that I would start working for a non-profit here in the US, coming from a third world country. But, as soon as I started working at IANTM, I got that deep magic feeling that maybe everything I did in my career was meant to bring me to the following conclusions:

  • journalism was never a passion per say or a career, but an education to get me somewhere further, to open my mind to new ideas;
  • writing is definitely a passion and maybe I needed to work for a publishing house to value all my linguistic knowledge and improve my writing skills to boost my confidence in my own life choices;
  • finally, I needed to work in other areas to experience stuff first hand and reassure myself that I had made the right decision back in the day when I was still an 18 year old student.

I just realized I am portraying myself like the main character in a Bildungsroman, that kind of novel that follows the personal growth of somebody, their paths toward self discovery and their seek for answers about life’s questions. A very empiric approach to life, I must say, because it relies on the fact that experience is the key. And I don’t mean anything by it, except for the fact that maybe I am an empiric person that needs to get her life lessons from experience, not books or blogs or lectures. Something that goes against what I always defended: literature may be the key to understand yourself, life, the cosmos, the universe, well, everything.

That was my friday morning, 7am epiphany. It ended there, and it’s ok. Coffee, black, please.