Why stay and go until the end?

by Francisco Beduschi Neto, Brazil, ELP 2015


When I got the opportunity to come to Berkeley and study here, I was very excited. Firstly, I’ve always wanted to come to the USA to know more about this country and improve my English. Secondly, I would have the chance to study at a great university. Thirdly, this course will allow me to improve my skills in the areas that I need to lead in the coming years with the NGO that I work for. Finally, I had everything that I needed: I was accepted and had the money to come. So, with all these things, why did I want to give up and leave?

At my first day at UC Berkeley, I met a large group of my colleagues. Many of them had Masters or Ph.D. titles, and I thought that I would have to do my best to be among them. After this meeting, Professor David Zilberman took us on a short tour around the campus and talked a lot about Berkeley and how hard it is to study here, how rigorous they are with their students, and all the great awards their students bring back (like Nobel Peace Prizes). At the end, I was shocked and said to myself, “OH, this will be a tough challenge.” At the second day, we had the Three Bridges Tour of San Francisco and I had opportunity to pay attention to what people were talking about, their experience and their studies. By the end of the day, another thought came to my mind… “I will not be able to follow this group or our professors; I will only shame myself if I stay.” Since I had a plane ticket to visit a cousin in Montana, it would be much easier to give everything up, spend some vacation days in the United States and then go back to Brazil. Once I got back, I would think about repaying my employers for the money they spent on my education. All of this was going through my mind that Sunday.

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However, when I woke up Monday morning I decided to at least experience the first class and see what would happen. After this, I did not give up, I persisted and went on with my studies and with each passing day, I felt more and more confident to participate, ask questions during class discussions with my colleagues and share my opinions. As I continued, more colleagues came to me to ask about my work and how Brazil is addressing environmental and other issues. By the end of the second week, I caught myself thinking, “Not only can I learn many things from the professors, the ELP staff and colleagues, but I can also contribute to others' learning process”.

Now that we are at the end of the course, I think that I came for selfish reasons but stayed for much better ones. I did not want to disappoint my boss, a person that I really admire. He trusted me when he appointed me to come and said the office would pay for the costs. I want to be fair with my wife since I gave up family vacations so I could be here. Moreover, I want to be a strong and beautiful example for my daughter: life is tough and can really challenge you, but you can do the right thing if do your best and find what really motivates you to go on. My daughter was born with dyslexia and has huge problems with numbers and dates/timing, and this is something that she will need to deal with for her whole life. It will be much easier if she gives up and asks for help for everything, but this is not the future that I want for her, so I must do my part.

Here I have learned a lot, improved my skills, made a great network and great friends, but the most important thing that I learned here is about behavior. It does not matter what you are doing, you will find many reasons to give up, and most of them will come from yourself; but YOU NEED JUST ONE GOOD REASON TO GO ON, SO FIND IT AND FOCUS ON IT!!!