First Week and First Impressions

The first week of the Impact! program went by amazingly fast!

I can’t believe that it’s been only a week since I arrived in New York, after flying all the way from Brazil. Something about this city and the people you meet in the Impact! program makes you feel at home. And, I must say, I do think the weather plays a great role here too, summer in NYC is awesome and it invites everyone to be in a good mood.

Looking back, I can still recall how excited I felt on my way to school the first day. I was about to meet a group of people that I’ll be spending the next six weeks with. Not only that, people I’ll be sharing and working with on projects. Individuals that are brave enough to want to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. Dreamers that want to accomplish big things, just like you.

If I close my eyes for a moment, I still can remember everyone stepping into the classroom at SVA for the first time. Some were more talkative, some would go in and try to find a seat without saying a word. My first impression of the group was that everyone – no matter how shy or outgoing – was very open to this new experience. As we all started talking and sharing our personal stories, you could see there was a great sense of interest and curiosity in each one of us.

We are a group of 14 individuals from the US, the Philippines, Lebanon, China, Mexico, Indonesia, Canada and Brazil. We even have authentic New Yorkers with us! Although we come from very different backgrounds, you can actually feel that we are not that different at all. Each one of us is here to leverage our skills and abilities to make this world a better place.

This first week was all about us. Instead of having our questions answered, we were asked questions most of the time. Tough questions, I must say. Why are you here? What do you care about? What’s your purpose in life? How does it connect to your work?

In our daily lives, we most likely spend time doing things rather than thinking about them. And, once you stop and take time to look deeper, it’s an interesting and at the same time overwhelming exercise.

If I had to sum up what this first week has been about, I would say: in order to give answers to a world that is in serious need of change, one must be very aware of their personal reasons for engaging in it. It takes a strong personal narrative. People relate to stories that come from inside you. If you can answer the question “why is it important to you?,”  you are a step away from  getting people to think about why it’s important for them too. And, it’s more work than you imagine it will be and takes not only “go-getter-ness,” since we’ll probably not accomplish much working solely on our own. Collaboration with others is critical.

Mariana Riberio