Hi! Nice to meet you. My name is Tati, and I’m the volunteer local coordinator for _SocialStarters in Rio. To be completely honest, I didn’t know all that much about social entrepreneurship before joining the programme. The concept seemed fairly obvious though – an entrepreneur who wanted to help society. It is that as well, but also so much more that I had no knowledge of before.

I participated in the training week, a little bit more prepared, having read several texts on the subject. It still wasn’t enough, faced with the incredible amount of learning I did. In five days, I learned what I had barely brushed the surface of in university, and in an incredibly practical and organised way. I left the training center every day with my head spinning and more than a little bit tired. It was incredibly rewarding.

Getting to know the entrepreneurs we would be working with was also amazing. Despite living in Rio my entire life, there was so much I had no experience with at all, such as visiting a favela community. Between the preparation for the program and training week, I was a tourist in my own home – seeing a different side to the city I spend every day in. And what a view it was.

In spite of all the preparation, some of the questions I was asked still caught me by surprise. Some things that are fixed points in living a life in Rio feel so obvious to me, that being asked about them threw me off a little.  I hadn’t even realised some things were cultural aspects of living in this city. It took questions from people that had never been here for me to realise that maybe certain actions weren’t as global as I had once assumed.

In training week, the consultants are asked – several times – for their feedback on the programme. This is done in a number of ways, one of which is to pick three words to describe their experience so far, how they felt about Rio and what they were expecting for the next few weeks. In order to give you some insight into what being on the programme feels like, I figured I would try to do the same. So, respectively, if I had to pick three words to describe this experience, they would be “rewarding,” “new,” and “mind-opening.”

If those words piqued your interest in the concept of the programme, please go check out our Facebook and Instagram accounts to learn a bit more about _SocialStarters and how the team is getting on in Rio!

Would you like to #JoinUs in either Brazil, India, or Sri Lanka in 2016? APPLY HERE. Immersion Programmes are running throughout the year as well as a new programme format for people who can’t take 6 weeks out of their lives – our 2-3 week Inspiration Programme in Rio in August/September, and our flexible volunteer programme _TheAssignment. See our website for more details www.socialstarters.org.