by Daniela Gomes Metello, 2014-2015 President Néstor Kirchner Fellow
I submitted my essay for the President Nestor Kirchner Fellowship in 2014 without much hope of being selected, after all, my research topic and work is the socioeconomic inclusion of waste pickers - a very specific subject - and in addition, I was fully aware that there had already been many Brazilians selected in previous editions of the fellowship. Though I thought these factors may pose an issue, they did not and I was selected as a fellow of the 4th Edition of the PNK fellowship.
I knew I would have a great stay at the New School, but the experience I had surpassed all my expectations. First, I can say that I was surprised with the knowledge that everyone, especially members of the Observatory on Latin America, has about the economic and social situations in Latin American countries as well as country specific public policies. I would also like to highlight the depth of which the studies and debates are conducted. The New School is a progressive university and I noticed this in every interview I had with professors and students of this university. This alignment has greatly influenced the development of my work during my stay in New York.
Another great surprise was the commitment of OLA team in making our experience the most useful and rich experience possible. Over the two weeks, I met with many people from universities (The New School, Columbia, NYU), companies, and non-profit organizations. I also participated in events, classes and a meeting at the UN. All this helped me to improve the depth of my point of view on my research and also to expand my network. I met many people who develop studies and projects in different areas related to the larger goals of my project: sustainable development, social inclusion, human rights.
In addition to the interviews, I presented two preparatory seminars that greatly contributed to the development of my topic. For two hours (each), I discussed with a group of specialists how to improve upon my research, how to better articulate it, and how to improve the implementation of the public policy that I was in charge of in the Brazilian Federal Government. The various experiences shared awakened me to some very relevant points of the project I had not focused on before.
Finally, it is also important to say that New York is a city of incredible cultural richness. During the fellowship, I was able to enjoy moments beyond the academic experience, including museums, concerts, restaurants, the cinema and everything that makes this city a "capital of the world".
Brazil, March 2014