Guilherme da Cruz Catharino from Brazil
Please read full interview with Guilherme below:
Guilherme: My life is very busy. I finished my high school in Brazil we finish high school at 17. I finished it last year but on the science side I had 15 years, 15 years I study at SENAI (National Service for Industrial Training), SENAI is a technical school in Brazil. So I used to go to the high school in the morning and in the afternoon I went to SENAI to the technical course. I finished my SENAI technical course in 2016 and I have already started another one in 2017, another technical course, and I will finish this course at the end of this year now.
I finish high school last year and now I’m in college too. So now I go to SENAI in the morning and in the afternoon I run to my job, I am an intern at a company about solar energy. At night, I go to the college and then I go to my home.
That kind of passion and motivation at your age, applause.
Guilherme: Last year, I used to go to SENAI in the morning and in the afternoon I stayed at SENAI because I participated in the SENAI Olympics technical word skills and technical skills. So all of SENAI in São Paulo participated in many areas, electronic, mechanical, all these areas and I participated, I represented my school. I’d go to SENAI in the morning, stay in SENAI in the afternoon to train and practise and in the night I went to school and I remember because in Brazil public schools are very bad. It’s not so good, the private schools are okay, but public is not. So I find a private school open during the night in a city named Osasco and I live in São Paulo. I remember that for me to go from SENAI to Osasco I had to take a bus for something like 30 minutes and then take a train for 20 minutes and then walk for 20 minutes more.
Wow, what time did you get up in the morning?
Guilherme: I use to get up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. and go to bed at 1 a.m.
You’re a hard-working guy, I respect that.
Guilherme: Thank you.
How did you hear about the Stockholm Junior Water Prize?
Guilherme: When I participated in the Olympics in word skills at SENAI I lost, I didn’t get the first place, I was in fourth. It’s a good result if you consider that it was the first time that my school was participating. But we always want to win, we understand the importance of participating and getting knowledge, but we always want to win and I lost. But I always had a good relationship with my teachers at SENAI and as I stay more at SENAI to practice, I got good skills in some areas, especially electronics. So I was teaching some students in the night. I remember that I arrived at SENAI at 7:30 a.m. and then it was 10:30 p.m. and one of the coordinators came to me and said “Hey, you have this water project and there is a competition (SJWP) that you may participate in. See if you want to participate and make your paper and try to do it” I said okay, I will check. I went home and I checked and I started my vacation and I forgot. I remember I was in lying on the beach and I was sleeping and then the lights went off in my head “Oh my God, I forgot!”. When I got home I did it and I was reading the winner wins prize money and a one week trip to Stockholm. Oh, it was a dream to participate in. This was something that you see and you really want to participate in it and pursue like a dream.
I was in school and I received a message from the national organizer who said I was selected to go to Brasília at the World Water Forum to present my project. In that moment, I was already happy. Oh my God, I will go to Brasília. I hope I can win, but Sweden, Stockholm, it is still a dream. But I presented and I won and now I’m here.
How did you get the idea for your project?
Guilherme: We were having a water crisis in São Paulo, a strong water crisis. I don’t know if you know São Paulo, but It’s a really important city in Brazil. Not only because I’m from São Paulo, but I may say that it is the most important city in Brazil. There was a very, very, tragic water scarcity in homes. They were starting to turn on and turn off the water so it was generating airflow in the pipes and this airflow was generating undue charges for the people to pay and so I get this ideas at SENAI. The idea was something that they already started thinking about and it comes to me and I developed it and I built my project.
Is there a particular fear or challenge that you felt that you really overcame or something you can really remember?
Guilherme: Not so much. Sometimes when I talk with people I’m a little shy, but I don’t know why because when I have to present something I can do this very relaxed. Here, I’m a little bit nervous because it’s a big competition and It’s a grand, really important, prize. But when I have to present there’s a normal nervousness, but very little so I don’t have this problem. As long as I have been doing projects, the competitions is something I’ve always like to do. When something difficult comes to me in electronics, in management of the project, I like it when I can really win over this difficulty.
Would you say that you’ve had a specific person like a mentor or teacher that’s helped you a lot?
Guilherme:: I can say that I had all of SENAI because of the teachers, I have a good relationship with them and they are very, very, cool. There are three people in SENAI, the first mentor he got out of SENAI and opened the Solar Company where I’m now working. Now another mentor, helped me a lot with the word skills and developing projects; and our coordinator he went with me to Brasília, he really helped me.
What do you think is the most important part about having a mentor?
Guilherme: I think they are people who inspire myself. I look to them and I see these are the kind of people that I want to be when I’m older. I want to be people like them, working like them in their normal life. This is the thing that inspires me.
Is there any specific moments you remember?
Guilherme: Winning. The win to come here. Because I had participated in a lot of prizes and competitions and always I got close but I didn’t get the biggest prizes. It’s good, But like I said, we want to win, we all want to win, and sometimes we get a little sad. But winning this trip here (to the International SJWP final) was really good because I see that I can do it and when I fail I have to be persistent to keep doing the things and eventually the prize will come. Brasília too is one of my best moments. Brasília means to have the notice to come here.
How do you think this journey has impacted or changed you?
In professional life I think it’s very important. It’s good to put in your CV, a good experience to present in professional interviews, something that will really, really, add things in my life. And in a personal way, the experience. I have always had a dream to come to Europe, to come to another country. It’s my first time abroad and it was faster than I imagined it. So, it has been a great experience for me. This is the thing that I think is more important than the professional life. How this can add in my professional career but more the personal, the experience that I’m having here, meeting new and different people, practicing my English. Seeing that I can really use my English.
If you could telepathically communicate with every single 35-year-old or younger in the entire world, and have their attention for just a little moment. What would you want to say to all these people 35 and under?
Guilherme: Take care of the water, really, really, take care. In São Paulo, I have experienced this period with the water crisis and it’s impossible man, it’s impossible. It’s terrible.
Do you want to explain a little bit, what was it like, the situation?
Guilherme: The main problem was really that there wasn’t any rain and we know that the government could make some things to have the situation not come to this point. But the main problem was really that we weren’t having rain. It started to drop the level of the storages in the ground water and surface water.
In terms of the reality of the people living in the city, what did that look like?
Guilherme: No water sometimes. For example, I remember that I was in school and they cut the water in the school. We stayed with no water in school. A lot of public schools cancelled some classes for one or two days, three days, because they weren’t having water in the schools. This is the thing that I would like to say to everyone really, really, really take care of these resources. We all know scientifically that we can’t live without water. Some people in other countries have the experience to not have water and we listen somewhat about it, but when you experience something like that… I did not experience it as badly as people in other points of the world have suffered from it. But even just an experience like mine, after that you know that it is terrible.
I don’t know if you know, but people have the image of Brazil as a long country of Amazonian forests and a lot of rivers. But there are parts, and especially in the north, where we don’t have water. We have a really serious problem with water in these areas. We have rivers but the rivers are not in the place that people live and for them it is terrible, they have to walk a long way to get water. It’s really terrible. When I was developing the project, we have an app, it’s a thing that I have in mind, that with the app we will make it easy for you to see your water consumption and I think that you can use it in an educational way.
We know if you take children’ four years old, five years old, ten years old, almost all of them have a cell phone. If you say to them you have to take care of water, they will understand and they may do it but they may also not do it. But if you give to them an app that they can open in their cell phones and see how much water they are consuming, I think that would be better for them to understand and would be better for them to control and see how important is. Take care about water. I think in my project, this is the most important thing.
Interviewe: Guilherme da Cruz Catharino
Interviewer: Edward Veem
Photographer: Lila Roumeliotou