Day Twelve – Becoming a Local

Top of the World!

Top of the World!

We awoke to a rooster’s crow and a medley of exotic birds. Starting on foot we quickly came to appreciate the luxuries of mobile transportation, we walked roughly 8 kilometers to a local market where we purchased local grown foods that we would prepare for the days to come. Leaving all electronics behind we walked and were able to truly embrace the beauty of the island and engage in our environment. After the market we returned to our villa by bus. Upon our return we separated into our challenge groups of the weekend; “ The crocojeels and Tubas” Throughout this weekend we would undergo various challenges that would prepare us for the future days with various companies and working under the Challenge 2050 program. The challenges were series of mental, physical, and emotional challenges that would test our abilities and strengthen our team. We separated into groups for some mental challenges of solving various riddles and scenarios. After the challenge team Crocojelle prepared a healthy lunch and the team took some time to reflect on the day. Later that evening we all sat in on a interview with Tamiko Gaines, She informed us about her work with HM Clause and how she got the opportunity to work with them. She told us here story and gave us advice on how to follow your goals. She represented her company and how they deal with their challenges to address our huge populations around the globe. She believes in each and everyone of us and believes that we can change the world. HM Clause and people like Tamiko Gaines as well as companies and people like them, provide students like all of us the opportunity to make a change. I am sure I can speak for us all on how grateful we are for this opportunity. I am grateful to have a team like the people who work with Challenge 2050 who express their passion and invest their time in students to help them make a change.

After the interview we left for the night markets where the locals sold beautiful Brazilian crafts and delicacies. Unfortunately most outside street shops were closed due to the rain, but that did not stop us. We continued on to another area with small shops and couldn’t help but be attracted to the sound of music and crowds of people. We came across a festival of people gathered with loud music and brilliant costumes. We all soon joined the crowd of dancing people. Wandering through the crowd we observed all the intricate vibrant costumes. We jumped in with the dancers laughing and trying to follow their moves. They taught us to samba and informed us that tonight’s festival was dedicate to announce the samba team of Ilhabela that would preform at Carnival this year. Carnival is a big cultural festival throughout Brazil and South America, with all kinds of music, costumes, foods, dancers, and much more. It is a big honor to perform in the parade. We could feel the anticipation and excitement from all of the teams. The dancers brought us in like one of their people, put headdresses on our heads and began to teach us their dances. It was truly amazing feeling accepted into their culture and to participate in their activities. I never though it would be that easy to feel comfortable in a new culture, the true human heat was exhibited in all of the people here. They made us all feel at home in an unfamiliar place and welcomed us to their home with excitement and compassion.

I believe it is important when coming to a new area to welcome it with and open mind and judgment free thoughts to truly understand their culture. One of the challenges that his experience presents is walking with the people. We need to see problems through the locals perspective and work together to solve the problems at hand. It has been a challenge for all of us to not draw so much attention, but through awareness we all day by day have gotten better interacting with the locals and seeing issues through their perspective. Tonight we all truly felt at one with the culture and I couldn’t have been happier to partake in this experience. I am so thrilled to be apart of Challenge 2050 and such an amazing team; I am excited for the days to come and what challenges they may bring.

~Shelby Thomas

Our Girls

Our Girls


Our New Passion!

Our New Passion!


Day Eleven – Seed to Salad

“To be successful, you first need to fall in love with your work.”

In any complex product, there are many moving parts that make up the whole, though many times you don’t get to see the work that goes into combining these moving parts until you see the final result. Today we had the privilege if seeing each step taken to bring grape tomatoes from the seed lab to the table. Watching this process, seeing the people involved in each step, we developed a deeper respect for how labor intensive agribusiness really is.

Labor intensive was one thing, but the aspect of today that really surprised and inspired me was the passion. We spent a lot of time with Nelson Mallmann. Nelson is a farmer, but he’s also an entrepreneur, a family man, and a visionary. Nelson’s business has vertically integrated many aspects of agriculture to incorporate areas he saw opportunities for growth. It was so inspiring to hear him talk about why he does the things he does; he refuses to cut corners, and truly cares about his employees, his country, and the future of our ecosystem.

While we were watching this process take shape in front of us, I couldn’t help but notice the parallel to our group taking shape. You’ve read that we have been busy finding our niche in the group, but beyond that, we have been developing as a team.
I’m sure many of the folks reading this have at least heard of the five stages of team development; forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. We have been brought here to help try to find solutions to these issues as a team- to be a team, this development has been crucial. The first week of this experience was the forming stage- we took time to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, while learning more about the environment we found ourselves in. This step is crucial in creating trust and compassion within a group. I was brought into this challenge 2050 group not knowing exactly where I would find my niche. As you’ve read over the past week+, we have each taken some unique roles in the group and worked hard to see where we can add value in this rapidly changing world. Our awesome weekend in Ilhabela was technically our storming (the second stage); while no elbows were thrown (outside of a lively game of spoons) or harsh words exchanged, we were given challenges where we had to compete with each other which caused us some tension. After the storming stage, comes norming. Norming usually seems kind of boring, but this is when the magic of cohesive teamwork is really put into action. Yesterday and today were norming. We switched our information gathering from passive to active- actively engaging with industry professionals like Nelson Mallmann to learn about our challenges. By spending time with him today, feeling his passion, and understanding his vision, I truly believe we are primed to perform well as a group tomorrow. We will be presenting a group of executives and academics with some of the information we’ve gathered and a few solutions we see as options. For us to be successful tomorrow, we needed to go through this process of team development. Similarly, Nelson goes through an intricate process to bring the best possible product to the table. I look forward seeing our hard work pay off tomorrow as we each shine our light and demonstrate our unique talents and passions.
~Riley Greenberg

Day Ten – Our Differences Bring Us Closer

Centro Market

Centro Market

Today was a very different change of pace for our group. We joined an executive team from H.M Clause for the start of three days of intensive introduction into the world of seeds. We had just come from an amazing weekend in Ilhabella where the water was turquoise blue with the mountains draped in the background. Now fully relaxed we were ready to start learning about the issues present both in Brazil and around the world.

We started the day at the Central Market of São Paulo. This was very different than the other market that we had visited only a week ago because the Central Market was much larger. It also served as a place where smaller growers could sell their fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, wholesalers and other food entities. I was shocked with the sheer number of people, trucks, and produce available for sale. We had to all keep to one side to avoid the men pushing large carts stacked with boxes from mango to squash. These gentlemen were mostly contracted by the grocers and wholesalers to buy the food they needed to sell to their customers.

From there we drove to our new destination of Campinas where we listened to presentations from H.M. Clause and their sister companies, Valmorin and Hazera at the Valmorin research station. H.M. Clause is part of the Limagrain Group, a French-based group owned by farmers and it is the fourth largest seed company in the world. We learned about the different vegetables they grow, where its grown and the values and mission of each company. It was inspiring to see people working for what they are passionate about and being proud of what they had accomplished.

Throughout the day I though a lot about how the Challenge 2050 program applies to Brazil and how what we are learning will provide us with data to create innovative solutions through systems thinking. The Central Market is located in the center of São Paulo. This requires all kinds of trucks to drive in the city to get their produce or unload it and then get back out. This uses a lot of resources when the market could be located somewhere outside of the city. The Central Market has not been moved because of political arguments happening in the city of São Paulo. We pondered the effectiveness of the supply chain and its distribution process but we also have to realize that processes like these are complicated and have many variables. Additionally, a solution towards sustainability would have to progress towards plastic and cardboard produce containers to increase the sanitation and quality of the fruits and vegetables.

During this trip we have become closer and helped each other discover our passions. Some like marine biology while others like marketing. Because of this I believe that there will be many solutions for challenge 2050 and feeding the world; whether that be with GMOs, a vegan or vegetarian diet, through water conservation, health initiatives, and the strengthening of infrastructure. As Shelby Brooks said in one of the first blog posts, once we get back to the U.S. we need to stay together, inspire each other and watch each other achieve our dreams.

~Kayla Waldorff

Beautiful End to a Beautiful Day

Beautiful End to a Beautiful Day

Day Nine – Home Away from Home


The Beauty of Ilhabella

Last night we stayed up watching a Zamba carnival.  Latin America is passionate about music and dancing.  Lucky for us we got to be in the middle of a vibrant celebration — women and men of all ages dressed in colorful costumes danced around with huge smiles on their faces the energy and passion of the people was felt all around us.  With all of this excitement going on, we forgot about dinner, it wasn’t until midnight that we got back and decided to cook, we made “loco tacos” and the name was fitting since we realized we had bought cream cheese instead of sour cream, oops!  but regardless they were delicious.

Even though it is winter in Brazil we wanted to go swimming in the ocean, we woke up early the next day, had breakfast and ran off to the beach.  I don’t think any of us regretted getting into the ice cold water. We ran around like children and took more pictures and selfies than any of us would care to admit but the view we had was unforgettable.  After running around, swimming (and a few cuts and bruises from jumping off rocks), I took a moment to leave the group and went away from them to sit on a rock in the ocean.  The scenery was more beautiful the longer I looked.  I saw turquoise water that glistened with the rays of the sun, gold glitter-like flakes floated In the water, little fish swam around me, colorful boats of all sizes bobbed in unison, up ahead a panorama of huge mountains met the soft sand.  Mother Nature is so beautiful and unique, there was so much to take in.

This whole trip I’ve been reminiscing on my childhood, I spent the first 5 years of my life in Colombia, even though we were in Brazil there were infinite similarities, the food, fruits, the scenery and most importantly the “calor humano” (human heat).  Everyday in Brazil I am reminded of my family and how my life used to be like living in South America. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until this trip, overwhelmed by these emotions I decided to sit on this rock to enjoy the memories and the view, a few minutes of reminiscing turned into meditation.  I felt the waves rolling over my legs and the wind surrounding me, then everything was quiet and peaceful, I forgot about my surrounding and became one with nature.  For those who are introverts, you can understand that time alone is needed to recharge, even though everyone in our group is amazing and we all get along, I was at this point where I needed some “me time” and sitting on this rock in the middle of the ocean was the perfect place for it.  Too often we get stuck in a daily routine, we are like hamsters on a wheel doing the same thing over and over day after day, we get caught up on our to do list and deadlines that we rarely take the time to slow down and take in the moment. The beauty of our surroundings often goes unnoticed because we are so focused on getting from point A to point B.  There is beauty in every corner of the earth, next time you are walking to class or on your way to work, stop and take in the moment, you never know what you can find.

Those who know me know my passion for traveling, It’s hard to explain the connection I already have with Brazil, it feels like home, like I belong here.  The time we have left is limited, we need to soak it all in and enjoy every second. Many of us in the group say we WILL be back and are already planning trips!  I am forever grateful for this experience and the people whom have been here to share it with me.

-Madeline Tourne

Day Eight – Hitting Your Groove…

Ilahbella - Beautiful Island, Beautiful Soul

Ilahbella – Beautiful Island, Beautiful Soul

Human nature yearns to belong. Most of us carry a desire to feel needed and useful. We each carry passions and a unique blend of experience, perspective and talent. Finding and leveraging our unique skills and passion for some is easy. We’ve all met those people who know exactly what they want to do with their lives. They’re focused, driven, and passionate about the vision they have for their life. Others need more time and discovery finding that perfect fit for their passions. Within our small Challenge 2050 group here in Brazil, we have both types. Regardless of whether we know exactly where to apply our passions, we all have unique motivations that drive us.

Today’s “mission” was to pack up our gear, and transfer locations from our house in São Paulo as we headed out to Ilhabela. The plan was to pack up, drive out, and upon arrival grab groceries for our stay. As the military reminds us, “plans only last until the first contact with the enemy”. While we didn’t have an enemy for this mission, our plans didn’t last long…

As we got loaded up, we had a number of people that were suffering lingering effects of Brazil’s allergy season combined with the continuously changing temperatures. First stop, the pharmacia for some cold meds. After a brief detour, we were off for our trip.

Heavy traffic and construction (regardless of country, some things don’t change) slowed down our escape from the city as we headed to the coast. A bathroom stop later, we were off to the races. At first contact with the coast, the van was filled with excitement. We were all full of anticipation as we rounded each corner. Yet, after numerous corners and mountain ranges, the trip lingered on. What was advertised as a 3 hour drive stretched out to almost 6 as we worked our way along the coast to our destination.

Arrival at Ilhabela finally came to fruition and the house was absolutely amazing. Equipped with huge living spaces, a dining room that seats 16, and pool, tennis courts, volleyball net, soccer pitch — the house had it all. As we started to set up our living quarters, everyone was filled with excitement and anticipation of the time we were going to spend in Ilhabela.

These location changes got me to thinking about space. Consideration about who we allow into our space, as well as who we partner with. Which also lead to thoughts of preserving space…

In our zest to help, create change, and serve others, we can frequently find ourselves forging ahead into filling opportunities and needs. However, without careful consideration of how we can leverage our skills, talents, and abilities, we might fail to see the ideal opportunity for fulfilling needs. Challenge 2050 is all about finding new ways to meet the challenges of feeding the forecasted 9.6 billion people by 2050. To do so we are learning all we can learn about how to effectively partner with others to create change, lasting impacts to our environments, and leveraging our skills to help others. Learning about the needs of those we are serving helps us to tailor our involvement in a manner that provides the greatest impact.

Using the space we create to change the world requires intentionality. For those that know their life’s plan, they see the opportunities quickly which align with their plans. However, for the rest of us still searching for the perfect fit, we have to be careful and intentional about aligning with others. For their benefit as much as ours. By applying our unique strengths to the right application, we find ourselves fulfilled and happy giving to a cause, mission, or ideal.

During this trip, it has been exciting to witness the application of each member’s skills and passions in varying environments and situations. As members of the group learn to identify the spaces where they fit and are able to meet specific needs, it is exciting to watch passion meet opportunity. The world has more needs than we have capable volunteers. But through intentionality in the application of our talents, we can work to change the world together – and be fulfilled doing so.

Lastly, space can also reference the environment we are in. Within this group of amazing people, there are moments of transparency, trust, vulnerability, and authentic self during periods of reflection. This is made possible by protecting and honoring the space we share. All too often we are tempted to make light of these meaningful moments. I encourage us all to honor and acknowledge the value of these ‘spaces’ by allowing the moment to linger, savor the authenticity, and the people we are with.

Life flies by, and opportunity does too. So grab those close to you whom you value and preserve the space you share.

~ Adam Boudreaux

Day Seven – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Today marks week one of our Brazilian adventure. After eating endless amounts of bread, buffets, and carbs Shelby Thomas and I decided to wake up a little early and do a workout. The food we’ve eaten on this trip has been absolutely incredible along with the company. Coming into this trip I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were all a little unsure of how 10 girls would survive being thrown together. I’m happy to report “WE MADE IT!” Week one is over and I’m so sad it is, because that means that we only have one week left together in this amazing country.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words and anyone who knows me well knows that it’s far from a rare thing for me to have a camera in my hands. I thought it would be time for you all to see some of the beauty that we have been experiencing for the last week and sharing with you the knowledge that we learned today from our bus tour around the city.

I tell narratives through my camera — Passions, beauty, and a small window into who we are among the places we go.  I have included a few pictures below to tell one small piece of the UF in São Paulo narrative.  This is my lens and when we come together we can potentially see the whole picture.  This is who we are.  This is our narrative.  This is our challenge.  However, it is also our opportunity to save the world.

DSC_0250         DSC_0275

Sergio our tour guid around São Paulo, Secretary of Justice

     DSC_0262                               DSC_0251

Monument showing the diversity of Brazil


 Cathedral São Brazil – Neo-Gothic Church


~ Katie Cardenas

Day Six – Together as One

Parceiros Apaixonados

Parceiros Apaixonados

Braśil is typically defined as a developing country with potential. When you look around, high rises and favelas line the view. It sports chaotic traffic, loose litter and fancy shops. The technology lags behind America’s constant updates, as Braśil searches to find its roots.

Today, I saw the seed that started it all. We walked into the Museu do Futebol and the world changed. Roars echoed around, the ground trembled below and you’re staring down the only thing that matters in the world—the ball.

This museum was unlike any I’ve been to. It took textbook history and turned it into a story. Holographic players welcomed us into their home and radio announcers narrated the highlights. As we stepped into the next room our hearts beat as one, literally. The stands of people, virtual to the eyes but tethered to our souls, rose into action and brought us home.

As foreigners, it’s hard to feel accepted in a strange land, but as I sit here writing this I know that is what has happened. Braśil came together over soccer. That’s what defines them. It conveys the trials and tribulations of the universe. Some may win and some may loose but it’s about the game, the journey.

Our game started with 13 players. Every player has a brain, a set of feet and a pair of hands. A single brain can calculate for hours, a set of feet could run forever, and a pair of hands can stretch indefinitely. However only a team can score a goooool. It takes a team to communicate, a team to pass, and a team to catch the opportunities.

We came together to represent a cause—to change the world. Nothing less, nothing more. We each bring our own personalities to the playing field. Alex with her knowledge of Florida’s Cattlemen, Riley and her perfect references, Hannah with her pure intelligence, Shelby with her passion for passion, Katie with her strong effort, Madeline with her graceful comments, Adam with his protection (both with encouraging words and watchful gestures), Jenn with her pure heart, Ana with her faith in us all, Shelby and her amazing smiles, Jess and her strong love, Kayla and her socks, Tony with his enthusiasm, Will with his secrets, and Tamiko with her strength.

And then there’s me. Just like Brasil, I’m trying to develop my story, we all are. We will just have to wait to see how the cards are played.

~ Corina McBride

Group Hug To Close Our Day

Group Hug To Close Our Day

Day Five – The Fish Tails of Our Adventures in São Paulo Continue…

Fish are Friends Not Food

Fish are Friends Not Food

Today started off as any other morning in Brazil, but little did we know we would be traveling the world while visiting South America’s largest aquarium. As we arrived at Aquário de São Paulo we were greeted with two large hanging manatees, a great white shark and a grand entrance to the rainforest. My excitement to see what was behind the mysterious Amazonian opening began to grow the more my mind pondered. As we stepped into the rainforest we were greeted with a small Yacare caiman swimming around his tank. These are from the same family as a crocodile and about 10 Million exist within the Brazilian Pantanal. Traveling through the Amazon we came across several other species native to the Brazil including the small but fierce Paranas. We observed a large tank full of rather unattractive native fish called Arapaima and a large Amazonian manatee dancing around these intriguing fish. Next we went below sea level into a sunken shipwreck. Sharks and stingrays surround us, as they swam above of heads. Each tank held interesting creatures like vibrant green monray eels, tarpons, triggerfish, puffer fish and other tropical fish. We came back from the deep to an area decorated like an airport. We boarded a flight overseas to Africa!! We saw meerkats, playful lemurs and some native snakes to Africa. Next we adventured to Australia were we came face to face with a family of kangaroos basking in the sun. Our last and final stop was the frigid Antarctica. As we turned the corner was saw one enormous plump Polar bear or Urso Polar in Portuguese, rolling around in a fluffy pile of snow. He gracefully walked back and forth giving everyone an opportunity to see how beautiful he really was. As our travels came to an end we gather at the exit and expressed what we loved most about this amazing experience.

From a marine science and ocean conservationist point of view, I love how Brazil is trying to educate the public on very important local issues and widen the scope to a global scale. This aquarium has not only represented their own native species that are ecologically important but they went around the world to show the public how important conservation is on a global perspective and how their actions impact others around the world. As young kids, many do not grasp the concept of this idea. They may know what a polar bear is and what it looks like but until they see how magnificent this animal really is, they wouldn’t give the polar bear a second thought. This goes for adults as well. When a population is not educated, we cannot better ourselves. Through educational experiences and awareness this aquarium is trying to reach the pubic and make an impact in the public’s understanding of the world. They educate the public on animals that they would never get to see otherwise. They raise awareness of the ecological impacts that humans have on the ecosystem because of the day-to-day actions they choose to make. Lastly, they provide the public with experiences by seeing and interacting with these animals in person. These exact three pillars are what the challenge 2050 is based on. We use education, experiences, and awareness to understand how local Brazilians deal with their own challenges and how they adapt to their surrounds with an ever-growing population.

Ocean conservation is my passion. What I saw today reminds me that I have a part in this play that we call life. When I saw the shark above me in the aquarium, all of my work with these powerful creatures came rushing back. My dream is to research them by tagging and following their interactions with their ecosystem. When I become an expert through my education and experiences, I will create a foundation for sharing the power of the ocean and sharks with the world. I will focus on the youth, but impact the world. Together we can face any challenge that is as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky. Sonia Ghandi said that and I 100% believe it. 71% or our world is covered by our oceans. However they are our oceans and we need to take care of them. This is my challenge and I cannot wait to explore where it will take me.

~ Jess Van Vaerenbergh

Oh the Place You'll Go ~ Dr. Suess

Oh the Place You’ll Go ~ Dr. Suess

Day Four – Our Hearts on a Colorful Wall

Passion for People

Passion for People

Today we ventured out into a wilderness of creativity. Beco de Batman defined this idea for us. This graffiti inspired avenue of art first began with one man and an idea to express himself. This soon created a door for many more artists to walk through. As I walked down the streets of Beco de Batman, I was overwhelmed with talent and bright vivid graffiti mural paintings. From the sidewalks to the rooftops nothing but art covered every inch of concrete we could see. Every painting meant something to the artist who created it and gave us a small window into their passions. The love these people have for art is clearly shown as these pieces of art hang along people’s houses. Not only in Beco de Batman, but everywhere in São Paulo is expression of art, which reflects on the people here who live in Brazil. People use art as an escape door for the passion burning inside them. One painting that stood out to me was where a teacher’s heart was given to the students he was teaching in a classroom and it reflects on the love that teacher had for the job he does. It really spoke to me because when you decide to do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Passion filled my heart and tempted me to grab a marker and run home to draw every idea that filled my mind while walking through these beautiful streets.

After Beco de Batman, we continued to explore this intimidating concrete jungle. After stopping at the mall we continued to grab lunch. Although Americans aren’t familiar with late lunches, we quickly adapted after we realized the Braśillian pizzerias do not open till 4 pm. We found a beautiful buffet, which allowed us to try multiple wonderful dishes. Trying new things is always an experience to remember. Seeing my peers next to me trying beautiful desserts and sharing them with joy, was a strange but wonderful way to learn which foods we like and which ones we prefer to not have again. Human heat surrounded the table as we shoved food into each other’s mouths and watched the reactions. After developing an uncomfortably full tummy, we rushed to meet with the Departemento de Alimentaçáo Escolar – a social service program whose mission is to provide fresh and nutritious food for the school children of São Paulo. With open arms these amazing people invited us into their organization and began to show us how they feed 1 million children 2 million meals during the school day. From organic rice to fruits and vegetables she told us how much work she puts into making sure these children are not only fed, but also fed in a nutritional way. Being able to meet with, learn from, and collaborate with this organization was just amazing because our talented group of girls were overflowing with ideas and questions of ways to understand and enhance the system these wonderful Braśilieros have created. Sparking another flame in everyone’s hearts, we returned back to the house to reflect new inventive ideas and think of ways we can return to the US and maybe help create an easier way to improve the system. Prior to leaving, I found myself having a moment on the 33rd floor of this building that overlooked São Paulo. Although we were all focused on helping this organization, I stopped admire this absolutely incredible view of thousands of skyscrapers looking over the city. Often times we forget to truly get to capture the beauty of simplicity. However, today I can agree for everyone we were in awe.

~Hannah Baez

A Special Message to Our Friends & Family at Home

Uncontrollable Excitement!!!

Uncontrollable Excitement!!!

Dear Friends & Family,

We are hoping that you are enjoying our posts, as they are a great way to stay aware of all of the amazing things that our group is experiencing.  However, we would also love to hear from you!  If you click on the title of the daily post and scroll to the bottom of the screen, you will find a “reply” button.  This will allow you to post your thoughts, send us your good vibes, and keep us connected while we are aboard.  Stay tuned for more, as today we find ourselves unpacking the challenges that come with our growing global population within the São Paulo schools.  Muito obrigado e tenha um ótimo dia!

UF in São Paulo