Yesterday we kicked off our 4th emerging leaders fellowship in São Paulo! The adventure started out in the very cool district of Vila Madelena, at Batmans Alley, an open gallery whose walls artists have been adorning since the 1960’s.

Our powerhouse team (who, from the looks of it could also make it as an indie band if this week doesn’t work out), set up camp there, waiting to greet our 16 fellows as they arrived from 8 different parts of the globe.

From left to right: Leticia, Sara, Arturo, Regina, Leyla and our super host, Luisa

From left to right: Leticia, Sara, Arturo, Regina, Leyla and our super host, Luisa

After a brief chat about word preferences between poo, poop and cocô, we started off with the one legged stand game, which is becoming an UnSchool tradition. Through it we learned a bit about everyone in the group, and tested our endurance. Our fellows impressed us with their memory skills, especially Victor, who went last and didn't break a sweat as he recalled the names and facts of all 20 of us (fellows + team). He didn’t even confuse our host Luisa and her co-host Leticia, who coincidentally both came dressed as cheese-loving mimes!

We then walked over to Ecobeco, to visit a group of architect entrepreneurs. They outfitted a house with sleek sustainable design solutions, and showed us a drool-worthy example of urban eco-living. We received a tour from one of the founders, Rafael Miranda (also founder of Ecoeficientes),  who gave us the scoop on some of the cool designs-- garden beds that can survive 3 weeks without water due to clay beads in the base, solar powered ovens, tetra pak walls that made up the side of his office, and more! It was like exploring an engineer’s secret eco-wonderland full of solutions for the future.

tour of Ecobeco, São Paulo UnSchool fellowship

Next, we headed to the newly-opened Casa Madalena, the headquarters for Yunus Social Business. It isn’t a co-working space, but rather a house designed to accelerate purpose driving companies. There, we jumped right into our rapid getting-to-know-you 3 minute Pecha Kucha’s (our full team even got up to do it!).

Each Pecha Kucha blew us away in one way or another, with incredible storytelling, personal journeys and slick design left, right and center. We got inspired by fellows’ projects and experiences, laughed as some of them showed us their adorable childhood photos and funky hairstyles, and we even shed a few sneaky tears as Regina told a story about how her spirit animal was a sloth which has grown wings and is about to fly! 

(What? Sloths can fly? Not typically. But watch this space, because this sloth is going to soar!)

(What? Sloths can fly? Not typically. But watch this space, because this sloth is going to soar!)

After sharing our journeys of how we ended up in Sao Paulo together, we took a brief break to prepare ourselves for our first dose of knowledge transfer. Our epic powerhouse founder, Leyla, started off the learning journey by giving us her brain-stimulating introduction to sustainability. You could literally see the synaptic changes start to occur, as the fellows learned that biodegradable cornstarch cups aren’t actually more “sustainable” than plastic cups (BOOM). Leyla also walked through what sustainability is (hint: it’s not about being a tree hugging hippie) and busted some of the dominant myths around sustainability:

  1. Biodegradable is best?

  2. Humans act rationally?

  3. Packaging is bad?

  4. Sustainability costs more?

One insanely fit fellow, Caroline, realized how “blind” she has been about the way the world works, but Leyla assured her it was okay because it’s not a permanent form of blindness and because that's what the UnSchool is all about: pulling the rug from under you and providing you with a new lens of seeing the world!

After getting unschooled on sustainability, we went off to a local bar to share food and some much appreciated wind-down drinks to relax after the hyper-stimulating brain-activating day. This local bar had a telescope on the roof, which some fellows played around with, looking all directions (not just up)... It’s only the end of day one, but we already know we have a cheeky bunch of emerging disruptive designers on our hands this week!

UnSchool Fellows - São Paulo 2016

If you want to check out the mischief we get up to, you can find us on snapchat, instagram and twitter by searching "unschools" ... team members, fellows and mentors will also be posting across social media with the tag #unschoolsp!