José Ivan Aquino – Educating for the Environment

Jose IvanA Brazilian educator shares how he works with the capital’s marginalized people to raise awareness about the environment. 

What interests you most about what you’re doing now?

Currently, my greatest interest is to empower the youth of the Itapoã community (an extremely poor area near Brazil’s capital city) to create an Ecological Park and to protect a degraded water source within it. So it’d be the Itapoã Ecological Park and the Caiapó do Rosário dos Negros Stream.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

The insensitivity of the concerned authorities that persist in their errors and administrative abuses.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m very inspired by the work of Herbert de Souza, a Brazilian sociologist who passed away in 1997, affectionately known as “Betinho.” He left us the organization Citizen Action Against Hunger, Poverty and for Life that I help run in Brasilia.

Another person who inspires me greatly is the deceased Professor Wangari Maathai from Kenya who launched the Billion Tree Campaign which I coordinate in the capital.

Why is peace sexy to you?  What does “Peace is Sexy” evoke for you?

Peace is sexy to me because it offers the possibility to care for other people and for the environment. Peace Is Sexy evokes for me the impulsive desire to build the roads to a better society.

What is a simple thing you do to create peace? What is something you do everyday?

I plant seeds and trees native to the Brazilian ecosystem to join in the initiative of the Billion Trees Campaign and in order to help lower the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

I also facilitate groups of people from various poor communities and organize them around microfinance. I administer free classes to mold the ecological consciousness of popular ecotourism guides.

Everyday, I leave the car at home and use the bus or walk to work. Considering that we have a horrible public transit system and that I’m the only one in a community of 400 people that acts in this way, what should be the norm is treated like an exception where I’ve lived and worked for the past 6 years.

How would you like Peace is Sexy to make a difference in what you are up to?

I think that if we could show in short videos (4 minutes max.) what we need to finish building the Betinho Community Center for Technical Education, we’d succeed in maintaining consistency with our ecotourism guide courses as a source of continuing education for environmental consciousness.

Where would you like to see your passion go in the next 10 years? 20 years? 100 years?

Into the minds of the youth of Itapoã, in Brasilia, in Brazil and in the world.

And into the stories that my granddaughter, Ana Clara, invents.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

As a worker specialized in the area of Public Policy and Governmental Management, I’d love to share with you that I mediate dialogues and interfaces within society using a powerful communication tool that we created where I work, at the Ministry of Education of Brazil. Using this platform, we’re reinvigorating the National Conference on Education’s strategy of Free Conferences and I dream of being able to talk to people through out the world, mainly youth and children about what their hopes are for their own education.

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