Henrique is currently a student in Team 13 of the KaosPilots in Aarhus. He came over from Brazil and gladly shared his experiences of getting and surviving the KaosPilots with me. His story is extremely humbling and inspiring, and also in some parts scary:

My story in short – I have Italian citizenship and I was working in Amsterdam before applying to KP. My parents don’t have money to support me fully and I don’t have any savings.

I had saved some money in Amsterdam and that was enough for my first 3 months, including the start-up fee. By December 2006 I was broke and I had to start working. As I don’t speak Danish and I apparently don’t have any special skills (bartending, webdesign, singing/playing music, etc) I had to go down: delivering newspapers over holidays (exactly 1 year ago), cleaning bars and restaurants, etc.

Minimum wage is quite high in Denmark (min 95 DKK/hour) so my calculations were that if I work 23 hours per week, I’m able to pay my fee + rent + food (more or less 7,000 DKK). I did that for 4 months and I got sick of it, as it’s pretty tiring (energy) and you also miss a lot of opportunities within the KP (social and professional ones).

I also needed to go back to Brazil, to recharge my energies, so I miraculously managed to do my May Project there (wiki.homebase.dk/PauBrasil). Awesome. I also got a summer job in Rotterdam (KP school setup) that gave me some extra boost of energy (not much money tough). Since August I live in “couches and living rooms” so I don’t pay rent. I learned to live a simple life, spending little and cooking my own food, always.

Right now I own school money, some money to a colleague of mine, money to my parents and money to the bank. I have no idea how to manage my 1,5 years I have left, but I STILL believe a solution will come. I see the benefits of the Education so clearly that I can’t give up now. Otherwise I would have left 9 months ago, when I got my laptop and camera stolen, in Scandinavia!!

I don’t know if I could do what he did. I could live on couches (heck, I’d prefer to – anyone want to be my host family?) and cook for myself. I don’t mind a low entry-level job. But working yourself down just so you could live? I’ve done that and I never want to do that again. It drove me to insanity and sickness, and I had to give up a lot of things just so I could recover. And it also seems so crappy that Henrique had to give up amazing opportunities with the KaosPilots, just so he could work to earn enough money…to partake in the opportunities with the KaosPilots. What’s the point, then?

At least the school seems to be flexible about money, which is good. Parents are out of the question for me. I’ve been raised to never borrow money so I don’t know how I’ll get the nerve to request a loan – and besides, I’d probably be stuck in some administrative loophole anyway due to citizenship issues. I may actually have to work 23 hours a week just to support myself. Even in Australia I’m only allowed 20 max. And no job that takes less than 20 hours a week will pay you well – unless you’re a nude model.

He and his two teammates Zulma and AnnaLena (South American and Germany) are also facing money issues and none of them have worked out how to get their fees covered. Apparently the KaosPilots are starting a scholarship to support up to two people a team – please let me be one of them! But if they were not successful with their efforts…I’m starting to worry about mine. Henrique even tried asking the Danish government and it didn’t work! It does mean I’ll have to work even harder. The one thing I have going for me is that I’d be the first Asian…though with my luck they’d probably have 17 Asian students apply at the same time, or something.

Henrique offered to help with my budget, and did give me the great news that Macs aren’t necessary! Though if someone gives one to me I won’t turn them down…

I was in Penang for a few days and I came up with a few ideas to raise awareness – mainly fun creative promo material. IT’s cute, but I don’t know how effective it’d be. I guess I have to arm myself with skills in Danish and plate-washing.

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