Andrea Almeida is the founder Ethniessence Cia. Ltda. She is one of 248 fellows participating in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program, a presidential initiative that empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean. YLAI focuses on strengthening their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.
Now that our stay in Reno is coming to an end, I want to share with you a little bit of my personal experience…
I believe that us having arrived in Reno, 14 different people from all parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, was not a mere coincidence, but that this is the correct place and time for each one of us. From the first time that we got together as the “Reno group” in Dallas, I got the sense that we could form a family. And now, one month later, I feel happy, as I was not wrong.
Us coming here, leaving our families, our jobs… our entire routine, has represented a great effort on each of our parts, but I am convinced that it was all worth it. Maybe at the beginning many of us thought that we were not in the correct place and that we weren’t going to be able to achieve the objectives that we set for ourselves in coming here… and can I tell you something? I was one of those people. And I was wrong.
With each passing day, I began to understand that this whole journey was not exclusively a professional one, but that there was something more. Now I understand that everything was about something very much simpler, but at the same time much deeper… The real significance of this experience was that of “sharing” – sharing experiences, time, love, smiles, advice, happy moments and even sad ones. And all of this cannot be measured, much less given a monetary value. What we lived in this month is unique and cannot be repeated and I believe that it does exceed any of the expectations that we might have had initially. I hope that others have come to feel this as well, and that we all return to our countries with a sense of satisfaction and of having achieved something.
In summary, my message is that, no matter what the objective was when we came here, what truly happened is that every one of us made a difference. We came to leave our mark and that is the greatest result of this experience. We learned, but we also let people learn from us.
To my YLAI Family, I want to thank you for all of your love and for permitting me to share this experience with you. You taught me many things and you filled my moments with happiness-these moments now form part of my story.
Congratulations again on your entrepreneurial character. We were born to go far, and even though we still have a very long way to go, we are on the right path. Do not lose your focus and your passion and also do not lose the large heart that you have, because that is what life is all about – knowing how to achieve a balance between your intelligence and your emotions. I wish you the best. May you continue to succeed, and let’s hope that this goodbye will only be a “see you soon.”
I would like to dedicate some special words to:
Manu: What a joy it’s been to meet you and get to know you, Manu, you are truly noble!!! Thank you so much for always looking out for all of us, we love you, Manu!
Ann-Sophie: Thank you for sharing all of those giggles, songs and moments with me and for talking to me about yourself and about God. I am going to miss you so much. Thank you so much for reawakening in me my “crazy side” that I had turned off.
Johny: Never change-don’t ever lose that innocence that defines your character in that naturalness with which you do things. My wish for you is that you will travel the entire world and that you will end up being the millionaire that you want to be.
Bibi: Your last name is not just coincidence… “La Luz– the light” … that is what you are! You spread light wherever you go.
Vicente: My Vicentico….you’re soooo wonderful… thank you for all those good vibes and for always being a gentleman. You take our hearts with you. You are our Paul Shirley, only shorter…hahahahah
Cris: Empathy… That is what you are and that is what you taught us. Thank you, beautiful, for that and more!
Leandro: Thank you for your happy spirit and for your willingness to always help us, you have a huge heart!!!
I love you guys,