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So as some of you may know, I tried my luck with applying for Team 2 of the Kaospilots Netherlands in Rotterdam.

I just found out today that I’ve been shortlisted!

I’ve been invited to the Admissions Workshop in Rotterdam on the 19th and 20th of June. They’re also providing accommodation and food (so the workshop fee is a bit higher, but at least I have a place to stay).

The main hurdles so far are flights and visas. Visas should be OK because I’ve got official paperwork, but I do need a ticket to get a visa (and to get to the Netherlands!).

Since I’ll be back in Malaysia at the time, I’ve asked my parents to help me arrange a plane ticket so I can apply for a visa as soon as I get home. They’re being Dolly Downers about the whole thing, though, so I’m not entirely sure I want to trust them with it. KP NL couldn’t fund me flightwise, so I think I’ll try asking KLM for help.

Any of you have any experiences with KLM or other Dutch-bound airlines? Any recs on those that are great with sponsorship?

But anyway! Great news! The principal, Peter Linde, wrote me a very thoughtful and personal email. I am totally touched and honoured.

I would also like to give a shoutout to Bob Sloat and Michael Doneman – you two got mentioned in the email and it was your feedback that got me through!

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay 😀

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Seems that my last post hit quite a nerve – Jens made his blog protected and I’ve suddenly got more KPs coming out of the woodwork. My hits have jumped heavily in the last few days too.

Hey, nothing is free from criticism. When I travelled with Up with People (or even before I started) we all faced a hell of a lot of criticism just because of UWP’s reputation and history. And there were things that could have been done better. But it was still the best time of my life. Just because something’s attracted some negativity doesn’t make it totally bad. No one’s gonna like everything.

I just wished that the feedback was more constructive. If you disagree, that’s great. (I had a friend take down a post because I disagreed with his logic and points. Nothing against him, just his rhetoric. He somehow took it as a “personal attack” and then took it down because he thought I was offended. Wha? Disagreement doesn’t mean censorship! But anyway.)

The point of my last point was that the core substance of the KaosPilots seems to be lost in between all the party pictures and the “woo, foreign country!”. If you know where the substance is, show it! Give me links, references, contacts. Tell me about the stuff you’re doing. I want to know, many others want to know too. Share that energy! We want to share in it too! But we can’t do that if we don’t see it.

In semi-related news: can anyone translate this Danish blog entry? My boyfriend, and a web translator, had a go at it and all we can work out is that this guy went to his company’s teambuilding workshop for 3 weeks, which involved a KaosPilot, and it was totally fluffy and useless. But we don’t know if that is actually what he wrote. So a Danish to English translation would be good.

La de da! The closing date for Rotterdam (not Amsterdam, Thomas) was yesterday! Let’s see how that goes. I can’t wait two weeks, visas get in the way.

Got this email from KP NL just now:

Student Support Fund established as an alternative to student loans & grants!

This email is to tell you the GOOD news that a fund supported by partners (Flight Facilitators), most from the worlds of business and local government, has been set up! This allows us to waiver your monthly tuition, just like we did for Team 1. In total this means that we can support you with funding to cover your full tuition fee at KPNL in your first year.. A total amount of 4800,- Euro! It is not a loan, neither a gift nor a sponsorship since we want to establish real working-relations with our partners – the return value from the school and the students will be 80 hours of project-work during the first year of studies, which will be partly curricular and partly extracurricular…

This agreement does not include the general one time entry fee of 4000,- Euro that needs to be paid up front. So, we also solicit for your commitment to our school and ask you to pay this in advance and thus gaining co-ownership over the learning space…

YAY! €4000 is about AU$6553, which is a bit less than a typical semester’s worth of uni fees for an international student in Australia. The monthly fees add up to about that amount a year, so that would be BIG savings. And project work is why I applied in the first place!

What would be a good way to raise €4000? At least it’s a smaller number to target than the 6-digit monster I was dealing with back with KP DK! (Note to self: fundraise for a year at a time. Less scary that way.)

I’ve just posted out my application for KP NL this afternoon. The printing was a bit wonky (a couple of photos didn’t get exported properly) and QUT has sucky staplers, but otherwise it should be OK.

The last day is May 19th and the workshop is on the 19th and 20th of June. I’ll be in Malaysia then (mid-year hols) so flights would be cheaper, but not by much. KP NL does have a more organized system of financial support, though, so I’ve asked them to help me out. Even a connection to KLM would be good!

I did some calculations last year across KP Stockholm, Aarhus, and Rotterdam, and Rotterdam came down to being the cheapest of the lot. I haven’t really done much research into living expenses yet – should do that soon. And hey, I’ve always wanted to learn Dutch…

The KaosPilots NL are developing some creative financing ventures for potential students. Among them is a corporate-supported fund to cover fees for the first year, and work experience programs. They’re also working on getting Government funding.

They seem to be pretty focused and thorough on the funding ideas; the funding page just went up but there’ll soon be entries from those that have found creative ways of supporting themselves. Another plus point for them!

Also, I got a postcard from them this morning. Aww thank you! It’s purple with “Arabic” writing that says “this card can change your life”. I think they meant to send me something too with it, because there’s a strip of sticky tape in one corner, but it got lost in the post. Sorry guys!

Don’t forget to get your chance at KaosPilot A-Z 2!

On Thursday I was reading City News (a free weekly paper in Brisbane) and there was an article about Virgin Blue’s new headquarters in Brisbane. In the article, when asked about whether Sir Richard Branson was going to come to the opening:

A Virgin spokeswoman said while the entrepreneur would regularly drop by the headquarters, including a visit this weekend to the existing headquarters, his schedule was full for the mid-year opening.

(emphasis mine)

Thursday night it occurred to me that if Branson was going to be in my neighbourhood, it could be possible for me to meet him. I’ve admired the guy since I read Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It last year and figured he would be quite an interesting fellow to talk to. (Also: hello EducateDeviate interview and KaosPilot mission.)

I look up Virgin Blue’s contact details and find Colin Lippiatt, who is their Public Affairs Manager. I mull the idea over with Mark, who thinks it’s crazy, but still worth a try.

Friday morning I call up Colin. Told him that I read that Richard Branson was coming over, could I have a meeting? He told me he didn’t have Branson’s schedule, but gave me the number for Danielle Kieghery at Virgin Management – the woman with Branson’s schedule.

Aha!

I ring up the number and get her voicemail, which helpfully provides a mobile phone number. I debate whether to call the mobile. I leave a message, saying I’d like to do a short interview for EducateDeviate, my youth blog. After a few minutes I call up her mobile number, and reach her.

The background is noisy; turns out she’s in the middle of an interview. She tells me that Branson’s schedule is super full so she can’t really slot me anywhere, but I can send her an email over. Before I get her email address though, she has to leave.

I Google her name (and find that I’ve been misspelling it) and find her email address. I shoot off five quick questions and thank her semi-profusely for talking to me and giving me the opportunity.

I haven’t received a reply or a call-back, and I’d be quite surprised if I get either. But at least I am now one degree closer to Sir Richard Branson. The weekend’s just started, and if I wasn’t so busy today (Saturday) I would have stalked their Fortitude Valley office (thank you Yellow Pages) and just hung around until Branson and crew showed up. I’ll only need 10 minutes, after all. It did work for Astrid. Perhaps by Monday this story would have a pleasant ending.

I was expecting to be asked a lot more questions and be interrogated over who I was and what I wanted, so I was surprised that I was let through really easily. Tim Ferriss (he of the 4-Hour Work Week, which I just bought yesterday, damn my book addiction) had a challenge to contact some of the most prominent people around, and I think I did a pretty good job. This guy’s got a whole blog dedicated to meeting Richard Branson; I wonder if he’s been successful.

Who else should I contact? I’ve been trying to work out how to talk to Sir Ken Robinson after this brilliant TED talk, but his website’s under construction. And there’s Oprah Winfrey, whom I’ve been emailing for years without success (perhaps it’s because I am not American). If Anita Roddick was still around I’d like to talk to her too.

I’ve been successful with a few others – Dad led me to Jack Sim, who runs the World Toilet Organization (and whose email I really should reply to), and Uffe Elbaek, who formed the KaosPilots, is surprisingly approachable, quick, and very friendly. Then there’s all the fantastic people I meet by accident – I didn’t know how great they were till I met them and got to know them better. (also: hola, spidey! Really my best story of this kind, though now she’s not a celebrity to me but a dear friend and sister. Love you.)

There’s a few other people I’d like to swap ideas with – not just in relation to KaosPilots, but in general about life, education, making the world a better place, and being alive. Some of them aren’t quite as famous as others, but they’re still all inspiring and awesome.

What’s your story? Who did you get to meet under extraordinary circumstances? Also: if you can control Sir Richard Branson’s schedule, can you slot in 10 minutes for me? 😉

I’ve just returned from a Leads Club meeting – the idea is that business owners get together, promote their business, and share leads (potential clients/partners). A couple of people also speak up about something related to their business; today it was sub-prime lending and trends in mobile phones. Some of the members are really good with leads, and some have received good business from there.

If you’re in Brisbane and you’re interested, do drop by for a Thursday morning meeting. You’re allowed to come to two as a guest without having to make any commitments.

I’ve received some ideas and advice, and maybe I’ll get some leads out of there too 🙂 It was a bit more formal-business-oriented than I’d prefer, but at least it was a great way to put the word out there about my KaosPilot venture.

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