Posted January 8th 2011 at 9:50 am by
in CoLab Philosophy

Thank you, Sebastiao, for your gifts to CoLab.

A Tribute to Sebastiao Ferreira

Photo by Aditi Mehta.

I love this photo of Sebastiao because the poster in the background says ‘possibilities’, and that’s what Sebastiao’s expression is full of, too: possibility.

Sebastiao was with CoLab in its formative years. He helped us understand where we were failing and where we were succeeding. He broke our mental barriers so that we could find newer and better paths to follow.

Next week he will be returning to Peru after five years in the United States. When he came here he was already fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, but he couldn’t speak English. Now he is fluent in English as well.

He is entering a new phase, possibly pursing a PhD. As a young man he was offered a full scholarship to earn a doctoral degree in Physics at the University of Southern California, but turned it down because he decided that Physics could not solve the world’s problems. It was a time of turbulence: the U.S. was at war in Vietnam and Brazil was suffering under a dictatorship. Sebastiao returned to Latin America for another adventure.

Sebastiao has shared his life with us in nine self-defined phases. Listen to his story below.

Sebastiao by Polis CoLab Collaboration

Sebastiao wrote a summary of his journey as a guide for making this audio file. You can read it as you listen.

My Journeys

1. My aunt’s house, exploring the train in a trip and knowing my cousins, 9 years old.

2. Rocket experimentation, a short and explosive science project, 17 years old.

3. ABC of relativity, the discovery of theoretical physics, 17 years old.

4. Listening the wind, looking at Latin America from the bottom of the pyramid, 21 years old.

5. Social activist, a theatre group in Brazil and an epic age in a turbulent Peru, 24 years old.

6. Experimenting development in an NGO and backing to the middle class, 33 years old.

7. Cognitive facilitator, inventing two new professions, 300 workshops, 6 books and the life in the airports, 42 years old.

8. MIT labyrinths, back to school and inspirations of scholarship, 56 years old.

9. The future, the cognitive divide and the reinvention of my life, 62 years and beyond.

7 responses to “Thank you, Sebastiao, for your gifts to CoLab.”

  1. Christina says:

    Sebastiao, You are going to be sorely missed in CoLab! I’m so glad that I could know you during one part of your life’s journey. I didn’t know before you told us your story that we have #2 & #4 in common with each other. I hope that we can discuss this over a glass of wine one day! I think life has a circular pattern to it as well, and I hope that our paths will cross again in the future. Best of luck! -Christina

  2. Annis says:

    Sebastiao, Your knowledge, experience, and intellectual curiosity has been an incredible inspiration to me in the last two years. I feel so blessed and lucky to have had the opportunity to know you and work with you on so many endeavors. I wish you much success in your future work, and I hope that we can continue to collaborate. Best wishes! Annis

  3. Sebas, thanks for always sharing a positive outlook regarding our work, particularly during moments of enormous uncertainty. Carlos

  4. Lily Song says:

    Sebastiao: You are one of the best teachers and most inspiring people that I’ve met since coming to MIT. Sorry I couldn’t say goodbye in person (only in spirit, from LA) but I’m so glad our paths crossed and hope to reconnect with you many times in the future. All the best to you.

  5. Becky Buell says:

    Felicidades, Sebastiao. You have been such an inspiration to so many people, and you have lived more chapters of CoLab’s history than anyone! I’m sure we will cross paths again—Peru, Brasil, Nicaragua…I look forward to hearing where your next projects take you. Abrazos fuertes, Becky

  6. Boy are we going to miss you, Sebas! What a treat it was to spend time with you yesterday hearing stories about your photos, your thoughts about CoLab and about each if our work, and about politics!

    Thanks for all the gifts you have given, and will continue to give us. We all will look forward to your annual visits in January and the programs we will create around them. Travel well, keep us in your heart and in your mind. We, of course, will do the same.

  7. Amy Stitely says:

    Sebastiao – I am so happy to have finally been able to “see” you in expert workshop facilitation mode. Thank you for sharing this experience with me. You are a gifted leader. We at CoLab and at MIT have become better and more effective in your presence.