Brazil builds network of alumni ambassadors

The first ever Brazil Goodwill Ambassador summit took place on 1 December in Brasilia. 18 alumni representatives of the almost 1,500 strong alumni network in Brazil congregated at the British Embassy residence for a day of exchange, discussion, and discovery.

The Goodwill Ambassador concept is an initiative developed by the Chevening Officer for Brazil, Caroline MacDonald, to manage a country of such a huge expanse. The size of Brazil means that you could fit the UK geographically 33 times into the area Brazil covers. With alumni situated all over the country, from Curitiba to Salvador to Brasilia, the challenge was how to create a close community with such a diverse group. One alumni association would not work so the Goodwill Ambassador programme was born.

Ambassadors are highly enthusiastic and active alumni who are the local spokespeople for Chevening in their city or state. Each representative aims to create mini groups of alumni in that state, often leads on organising local events in that region, and is key in promoting Chevening in their area.

Following a successful pilot over the past year, the summit was an opportunity for the current ambassadors to meet each other, discuss their thoughts on the role, and agree on ways forward.  

It was a packed but invigorating day. The alumni reps were given a short tour of what the political and prosperity, scientific, security, and consular teams at the British Embassy do by the political counsellor, deputy head of mission, and other embassy staff. An insightful session on networking tools and tips brought the power of Chevening into sharp focus for the group. And there was time for socialising too with an enjoyable lunch hosted by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Brazil, Alex Ellis.

The most exciting part of the day, the after lunch session, gave the alumni ambassadors a real chance to take ownership of the agenda and launch into frank and open exchange on a vision for the network in Brazil, culminating in a draft mission statement. Edmar Figueiredo (1995) tied up the session with an introduction to his project on social inclusion and a call out to all to think about how Chevening Brazil, as an influential group of leaders, can help encourage social inclusion.

At the end of a busy but productive day, the pièce de résistance of the Brazil Chevening alumni network, The Chevening Brazil Alumni Yearbook, was launched at the British Embassy club. A huge achievement, this yearbook (available in electronic and hard copy) contains the most complete record of Chevening Alumni in Brazil there has ever been.  The yearbook is a celebration of 31 years of Chevening in Brazil and will be updated every two years.

To find out more about the Goodwill Ambassador network, please contact Allison Andrade (ambassador for Brasilia), Edmar Figueiredo (ambassador for Mato Grosso do Sul), or Julieta Diederichsen (one of ambassadors for Sao Paulo) through Chevening Connect. You may also reach out to Caroline MacDonald at the British Embassy in Brasilia.

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