Global Exchange Community Change Program in Brazil Brings Personal Transformation

Eric Olsen
January 16, 2014

“He [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] reminded us that we are at a very critical place in the world. That we must have a radical…revolution of values. We must rapidly become a person centered society, rather than a thing oriented society.” – Rev. Bernice King, Global Peace Convention 2012

Global Peace Foundation-Brazil is launching the Global Exchange Community Change Program (GECCP), a model of community driven sustainable development built in partnership with local leadership and international student organization AIESEC.

GECCP is kicking off with a six-week intensive volunteer program that engages local and international volunteers in service, tacking social and economic challenges of Jardin do Cerrado through environmental projects, educational initiatives and community building activities. The local community will have new gardens, parks and a community center, but the lasting impact is what is happening in the people who are serving together.

A volunteer from the neighboring country of Uruguay, Florencia, is spending her school holiday volunteering in the six-week kick-off. She prefaces her first week reflection with a disclaimer: “There is nothing I can write down that does full justice to what I’m experiencing.”

She writes, “When people ask why they should go on an exchange like the GECCP instead of going on holiday, I tell them, ‘It will be an internal as well as external journey.’” The journey she embarked on was nothing that Florencia could ever have imagined.
“I don’t know about you, but since I came into contact with the people from Jardim do Cerrado, my perspective of life has begun to change. What I thought was necessary for a comfortable, happy life suddenly seems not to be so necessary. What I thought was “normal” doesn’t look like it any more. The realization that the world is even more complex than I had imagined, but at the same time so much better and so much worse than my mental construction of it – is mind blowing. And what is more, I´m not only learning about others, I´m learning about myself as well.”

Florencia’s journey outside of her own world has taken her on a roller-coaster of emotions. “One second I want to change the world, the other I want to run back home and hide beneath a blanket.” She has recognizes that “we are all part of this bigger-than-us, life changing experience.”

“We are spending time with others, we are talking, teaching, playing, laughing, shouting, whispering, giving and receiving hugs, learning. We are experiencing humanity!  It’s so simple and at the same time so complex, right?”

Florencia is not sure what she will do in the future, but she is certain that “my life will not be the same.”

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