Hi, I'm Lawrence Santiago, PhD. I currently live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My intention is to be part of the XPrize Global Learning community, spread the word here in Canada, in my native homeland of the Philippines and Brazil and wherever and whenever I can. You can find basic information about me here: http://www.trudeaufoundation.ca/en/community/mark-lawrence-santiago
Why am I passionate about the Global Learning X Prize?
Growing up as a blind kid in a developing country and born into a poor family with very limited socio-economic resources, I thought it would be impossible for me to achieve any of my dreams. When I was 5, I learned how to read, write and count through a teacher from a slum neighbourhood in the Philippines. She used a very simple yellow book entitled ABAKADA (ABCD).I held on to that book and memorized every single thing in it and I discovered that I LOVE READING and that reading can take me places. And it literally did.
When my father died when we were kids, I promised him that I will get educated, take care of my Mom and make sure my sister gets educated too. Now at 30, Ive been to 80 cities and lived in 6 countries, graduated at the top of my high school and university class valedictorian. Because of my transformative experience, education became my passion. I decided to pursue a PhD and I eventually got the very best scholarships to fund my own education and the education of my sister (who is now working as a pharmacist here in Canada.)
After I finished my post-doc fellowship in Geneva, Switzerland, I decided to pause and re-evaluate my career, learn Portuguese and move to Brazil to be with my partner. Learning a new language proved to be very challenging - after spending so many years trying to become an expert (with a PhD and a postdoc and a book in progress) - I found myself struggling like a 5 year old again. However, the struggle of learning Portugese felt so trivial compared to what most kids in the favelas experience in Rio de Janeiro.
The struggles of children in the slums who are learning how to read and write reminded me of my 5 year old self. It shook me to my core that despite the economic growth in Rio, and all the global attention it is getting due to the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, many Brazilians (especially those in rural areas as close to 1 hour away from Rio) are still illiterate - and many of them are negatively constrained by their social environments.
What can I offer this community and your team?
I learned about the X Prize in October, I spread the word to friends and colleagues about it. When I returned to Canada last month, I re-evaluated my life plan and decided that I will do something this year that will make me a part of a global mission to eradicate illiteracy and I will look for an opportunity to do this full time. So instead of looking for tenure-track jobs in my discipline in traditional universities and doing what other people expect of me, I'm currently looking for a job here in Canada that focuses on basic and early childhood education and I intend to return to Brazil to teach kids in the favelas and the Philippines where I came from.
I'm not a trained software engineer but I'm one of the kids who used literacy to save his family from poverty. In short, I'm the kid you want to create your software for! If you're forming an XPrize Team, and wants somebody in your team that has a network he can tap in global higher education across disciplines (in Asia, South America, Europe and North America), somebody who can help you "test" the software you're working on directly with kids in and outside of sub-saharan Africa (in Brazil and the Philippines preferably), somebody who can collect, produce and analyze qualitative and quantitative data based on these tests to provide your team with an evidence base, or you simply want somebody to be the champion of your project, then contact me here or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to use all my talents, networks and energy to help solve this grand challenge. Literacy leads to knowledge leads to personal power leads to freedom. And I simply want every kid to be free.
Obrigado! Salamat! Merci! Thanks!