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Jan 16, 2018

Brazil Reflections | Aidan-Paul Enele Samasoni-Tukuitonga | Student Blog

It is said that your journey teaches you a lot about your destination – whoever spoke that into existence must have foreseen the amount of 'journeying' that took place en route to Brazil for our New Zealand delegation.

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Eight people from eight very different backgrounds and parts of the country came together in Auckland in preparation for the trip of a lifetime. 40 plus hours of travel and an American detour and we arrived in Sao Paulo – a place that I will hold such fond and cherished memories of for the rest of my life.

This trip would not have been possible without the support of the Latin America Centre of Asia Pacific Excellence – I cannot express eloquently enough or with enough gratitude how thankful I am to be given such an amazing experience. I am just indebted to the Latin America CAPE for what they have done for me.

Me?

My name is Aidan-Paul Enele Samasoni-Tukuitonga – a mouthful I know; trust me it took several years before I could spell my name. A young Pasifika and Maori man from the heart of one of South Auckland – one of New Zealand's most notorious areas. I am proud of my Samoan, Niuean and Maori heritage and to be from Mangere – the gateway to the nation.... because we have the airport.

The lessons I have taken away from Brazil have been immense – because they were not only on business and other conventional lessons but on rather about who I was as a person and other deeply emotional things.

In terms of what I have learnt about business in Brazil I could boil it down simply to one word and that is passion. It is no secret that the Brazilian culture and people are those of passion – passionate about their history, their culture, their food, sport and so on – they are people of passion. The people in which we were privileged enough to meet and speak with told me stories that took them several years of setback. They mainly talked about the bureaucracy and difficulties to do with building a business in the changing Brazil but whenever they did the passion they had radiated off them – they all oozed passion for what they did – the sacrifices I heard people make and the adversity they overcame was simply inspiring and was the biggest thing that I took away. That you can all the ability, resources and time but without passion you are nothing. When those eventual challenges come your way what is your reason to continue? They taught me that above all the theory and inner workings of economics that business is about people - a business is people driven and in order to have any sort of drive you have to have passion. In order for a business to succeed you have to believe in something with a passion that it becomes a reality.

What have I learnt about entrepreneurship?

During the course of the Young Enterprise Scheme in 2017 I had a hands-on experience on what entrepreneurship was like – to be quite blunt. It is crazy – the amount of time, energy and manpower that goes into an idea that you have no idea whether it will be successful or not is insane.

Entrepreneurship for me was an opportunity – it gave me a chance to make something of myself and to connect with people that I would have had no other ways of doing so. Going to Brazil was confirmation that the way I had seen entrepreneurship was a shared vision. From my interactions with the people we spoke to and what I was just seeing all around me entrepreneurship = opportunity. For the people we spoke to they spoke of change and of fixing things – this to me was just opportunity. The spoke of different opportunities given to them to change or do something they love and this really stuck with me. Entrepreneurship is the opportunity for people to do something meaningful and create a worthwhile impact – entrepreneurship was the thing that enabled me to be selected for the delegation and entrepreneurship has given me so many different opportunities this year.

What have I learnt about myself?

This has been by far the easiest and yet hardest question for me to give a sensical answer for because the fact is that I learnt so much about myself but it is so hard to put into words. I strengthened my passion to serve my community – my hope for the future is to become a lawyer and eventually a court justice because I want to serve and make my community better. In my time in Brazil I had rubbed shoulders with so many passionate and good-hearted people who loved their country and just wanted to make things better and this resonated with me because we shared the same ideology. The trip reinvigorated me and inspired me even more – I had time to change my mentality and think about the way I was as a person and who I choose to be friends with. A moment that I will cherish was during the Capoeira night – I know I was not the only one to feel this but the way that Geraldo and his team were some of the happiest and most genuine people I had ever met – even though some could not speak English terribly well the bond we created and the emotion that was there was out of this world. On an emotional level I was able to let everything go and for a split moment in time – I was the happiest I had ever been.