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Academia Amazônia Teach: the Amazon experience as an asset to snatch hearts and minds to new paradigms

A business that has at its core promoting immersions in the Amazon for students, entrepreneurs, investors and other audiences who want to know better this exuberant and at the same time fragile Brazilian ecosystem. That's what defines the Academia Amazon Teaches (AAE), which uses science and contact with Amazonian culture and knowledge to unveil this world to those who do not know it.

Created in September 2018 by João Tezza based on the idea of preparing students and professionals for the new skills of the future, AAE offers the Amazon Expeditions 21, immersive training developed to disseminate and debate topics related to sustainability and prepare people for economic challenges , social and ecological in the 21st century, with the Amazon as a space for research, experience and learning.

The expeditions take place in two moments. The first, in the city of Manaus, promotes visits to strategic institutions, which provides access to specialists in different areas. Secondly, an experience in navigation is promoted, visiting preservation areas and riverside communities with activities that involve sensory experiences and contribute to a broader understanding of the region.

The Amazon Expeditions 21 have different formats aimed at different focuses and audiences. In 2019, two expeditions aimed at students were carried out, involving 29 participants. In early 2020, two others were promoted: one aimed at startups and a customized version for a delegation of investors from other countries. 

 “We feel a sense of accomplishment when we realize the deep and true exchange that people have when they are here with us, whether in the academic field, or in the holistic, sensory field, in connection with nature and communities. And it is certainly a seed that we plant, thinking of a better society and involving people who, in the future, may be in decision-making positions in the country”, assesses Maria Eugenia Rocha Tezza, executive coordinator of the AAE.

Pandemic: adaptation time

In September 2020, Academia Amazônia Ensina – an initiative of Original Trade, a company incubated at INPA – completed two years of existence, and its performance has been severely affected by the social isolation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. But this did not prevent the business from advancing on fronts such as Distance Learning (EAD) and seeking solutions for riverside communities also affected by the stoppage of on-site expeditions.

While it is not possible to resume immersions in loco, AAE is working on the development of a distance course on the Amazon, focused on opportunities in the bioeconomy. Five virtual meetings will take place at each edition of the course, two of which will be seminars with the participation of recognized professionals in different fields of study and activity. the forest. 

“We want to offer a lot of data, information, knowledge about the Amazon. Statistics, historical series of deforestation, growth and decrease in production, forest economy, agriculture, mining, in short. But the core of the course, in addition to providing information for understanding the Amazon scenario, is to think about opportunities in bioeconomy and business modeling, with a view to conservation in the long term”, says João Tezza.

The Distance Learning (EAD) activity, which was already being developed by the AAE, accelerated with the pandemic and should materialize in the coming months. At the same time, the AAE advances in the planning and preparation of the next Amazon Expedition 21, in person, which is planned for July 2021 if there is security for displacement. “We are also working on parallel planning in case there are still some restrictions. We will be prepared for a very high level of rigor in relation to the expedition's health safety”, says João.

In the same way that the AAE had to suspend in-person expeditions, the communities visited and positively impacted by the expedition members also stopped receiving people and commercializing artisanal production, guide services and food.

AAE is also working on ways to help these communities. One of the activities planned for this year is to promote virtual sections of the film "The Rio Negro is the People", a documentary that gives voice to riverside people in the region, directed by João and Juliana Barros in 2019, in addition to lives involving characters and filmmakers.

The documentary seeks to unravel the meaning of being and growing on the banks of a river with the power of the Rio Negro, enveloped in dense forest and surrounded by global elements of today - the need to leave, the desire to return, the choice to stay, the immensity, river time. Local stories that provide universal elements for reflection on human life.  

The income generated by the exhibition will be converted into actions with these communities, seeking to assist in the design and development of commercial activities already carried out in a more or less informal way, in training aimed at entrepreneurship and even in the development of new businesses that can generate income for the riverside and riverside people.

Acceleration

One of the 15 businesses selected to participate in the Partners for the Amazon Platform's Acceleration and Impact Investment Program in 2020, Academia Amazônia Teach participates, like the other 14, in virtual activities. Only one face-to-face meeting, out of three scheduled for the year, was held at the end of February. The others were converted into a digital journey that has been developing over the last few months and will continue until the end of the year. For João Tezza, the Program is essential for new businesses that carry “this DNA of paradigm transformation. It's not about starting businesses with formulas that have been used for a hundred years, more or less on the same logic. These startups that are supported by the Program, in most cases, are businesses that face additional difficulties because they are breaking the limits of this past paradigm. So it is essential that they have a support structure, support, so that they overcome these difficulties in the beginning. And in this sense, the Program has been brave,” assesses João, also highlighting the importance of the economic support given by the Program, which has given the SEA the necessary breath to review the planning with all the limitations brought about by the pandemic.

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