Studying at PRECE

Studying at PRECE
Students from PRECE study together under the juazeiro tree in small groups using cooperative learning

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Motivation... without Handouts

This past weekend I had the privilege of spending quality time with one of my favorite Brasilian families. There is a long list of reasons why I love the Monteiro de Oliveira family- they are welcoming, kind-hearted, generous and loving. And, when I am with them I am reminded of my life in the United States and my family there. This is partly because when at their home I have all the comforts that I am accustomed to the United States, but mainly because I am able to enter into deep conversations with them and discussions with Carlos (the father) which make me feel like I am sitting in my own father’s study debating the politics of the day. This past weekend was a perfect example.

I was sitting by the pool reading an article on the current American political situation (the crisis with the debt ceiling) in the Brasilian magazine Veja. The article was fascinating to me (always enlightening to read the news about your country from an outside perspective!) and sparked many questions about American taxes, social services, and inequalities… and the Brasilian equivalents. So, naturally I asked Carlos to share his opinions. And, just as I anticipated, his answers, from a Brasilian perspective, mirrored the thoughts of my father, from an American perspective.

When it comes to social services such as welfare (or in Brasil, Bolsa Familia) Carlos and my father raise a reasonable question: “Why are we providing incentives for people not to work? If they can stay at home, have children and receive more money from government assistance programs than they can if they work a minimum wage job than we are doing a disservice to our countries by providing “hand outs”.” I understand their perspective, but the “bleeding-heart liberal” (as my grandfather calls me) sees the situation from a completely different point of view.

The beauty of PRECE is that it is a movement which both the “bleeding-heart liberal” and the “hard-nosed conservative” can stand behind and support. PRECE in no way gives “hand outs” or a “free ride”, but is built upon the premise that each individual must be self-motivated and work hard to improve their own future and the future of others. Hard work, dedication and persistence are key characteristics of each Precista. They know that no one else is going to change their lot in life for them- they must rise to the challenge and pave a better way so that future generations do not struggle like they did. At the same time, PRECE is built upon the support, encouragement and motivation of others who believe in lending a helping hand in order to provide those born in to poverty a way to pull themselves out of their misery. PRECE is a movement where people like my father and I can come together on common ground and support the dreams of those whose reality sometimes appears to be a nightmare.

When I returned to Pentecoste on Sunday morning I was reminded of exactly how much drive and motivation the PRECE students posses within them. In a city where opportunity is not innately behind every door, the PRECE movement is opening windows of opportunity. This past weekend hundreds of students in each PRECE EPC took an ENEM practice test to prepare for the ENEM (university entrance exam) that will be administered in October. From 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday the students could do nothing but take the test- filling in multiple choice circle after circle! If 5 and a half hours of practice test taking does not show hard work and dedication, I don’t know what else does!

These students know that education is the path to a better future and that they must work hard to secure their place in a competitive college market. At the same time, they are surrounded by a community of Precistas who believe in them and who walk the path alongside them. They do not expect a free ride but from time to time, with gratitude, they rely on the helping hand of the PRECE community.

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