Luan with the Olympic torch (image credit: LOCOG 2012)
Luan, a Brazilian Young Leader with the British Council’s International Inspiration programme, writes about his experience of being chosen to be an Olympic Torch Bearer on a recent visit to the UK.
I come from the beautiful city of Maceió in Brazil, which like lots of cities, faces a number of issues around access to education and health services. My school, Estadual Romeu de Avelar, is in a poor area of Maceió where we are exposed to violence and crime. But what we see on the streets is long forgotten when we’re in the classroom – I have a great school with amazing teachers, who work tirelessly to provide us with enriching programmes like International Inspiration, delivered in partnership through the British Council.
For me, International Inspiration involves sport, culture, union, leadership, respect, team work, citizenship and social inclusion. I’ve been a Young Leader in Brazil for four years, and during this time I’ve kept in regular contact with my UK link school – Serlby Park. I’ve become more responsible within my school and community, and have started to help with team sports. I was my PE teacher’s assistant during badminton, and I have delivered English lessons to year 6 pupils in my school.
All of the 20 countries involved in International Inspiration chose a torch bearer to represent them in the torch relay. I was selected because of my experience as a young leader, and the work I’ve done in sports festivals to encourage kids to try new things, like football, basketball, painting and dancing.
The sport festivals are organised by a group of young leaders. We try to make everything really well planned – we choose kids from our school and a community link school to take part in badminton, football, basketball, painting, and cultural dancing. It encourages kids to try new things, and if they like what they are doing, they can go and try it out in a more formal setting.
We’ve been invited to run the festival at seven or eight local schools in the community. We also do a lot of volunteering, singing to kids to encourage them to participate.
Carrying the Olympic torch in the UK was surreal. It’s impossible to explain the feeling. The crowd were saying ‘Go, go, go! You can do it!’ I was afraid I was going to drop the torch, and that the flame might go out, but an official told me that even the British rain couldn’t put out this flame.
Through this experience, I’ve made friendships with people who are really different from me, from across all cultures and religions – from Africa to Azerbaijan. Sometimes when we watch TV it seems like all these countries are in conflict, but when we are together, we are united as one to create good in the world. We are a team.
Luan is a Young Leader with International Inspiration and is an active promoter of his school’s annual Young Leader training sessions. He helps to referee Badminton matches and takes part in festivals organised in municipal partner schools. He is a diligent student and as a result was able to support his teachers with translation when his school received students from their British partner school (Serlby Park). He believes that his involvement with International Inspiration has enabled him to gain a good reputation in a community which faces huge social problems. Developing new leadership skills has inspired him to pursue a career in Public Relations or as a spokesman in the future; today his ultimate dream is to become a Brazilian Ambassador.