Student and Humanitarian, Geneva, Switzerland

Carlota was a chance meeting, arranged by a good friend. She is such a shining star, full of hope, energy and enthusiasm. I thoroughly enjoyed her viewpoints on life in Geneva, her take on state of indigenous languages in Peru and hopes for a field position in Africa. I am completely certain that there will be updates about her doing fantastic things in the future and improving lives of those around her.

1. Name.

Ana Carlota Moura

2. Where is your hometown?

I always have an interesting time answering this one. I would say Lisbon, because that is where I was physically born, but I feel my heart is in many other places I’ve lived in. However, now that I’m closer to ‘home’, I really feel Lisbon is where I am from.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

Curious and compassionate challenge-seeker/sustainability enthusiast/amateur musician & humanitarian data analyst

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?

My mental shift to starting my career journey happened during the close time I was graduating in Anthropology. I was in Brazil at the time, becoming more and more interested in the challenges indigenous peoples face when living in urban settings, and I felt the academic tools I had were not enough to address and engage this reality wholeheartedly. My journey after that realization has taken me different places and allowed me to deepen my knowledge and practical skills in a search to achieve a more just world, in both socioeconomic and environmental dimensions.

5. What did you study in school?

I studied fine art and graphic design in high school, Anthropology as a BSc and currently, I am doing a Masters in Sustainability and International Development, with a focus on renewable energy and agricultural transformation.

6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?

Although 20 is not that long ago (I am 22 now), life is much more beautiful, free and inspiring than I pictured it back then.

7. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?

Travelling different countries out of my own curiosity and for projects I deeply care for, and feeling safe/free in this. Learning to trust people I meet along the way has also been a humbling exercise…People can be so much more generous than we expect them to be, and this is something I feel I have understood more and more: how interrelated we are, and how giving generates giving.

8. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

Having difficulty in building a relationship of trust and understanding whilst doing fieldwork in Peru. I worked in two NGOs, both involved in projects with Andean farming communities. One of the projects sought to strengthen rural communities’ capacities in tourism. The other project was on assisting indigenous youth in their academic careers, whilst also strengthening and revitalizing Quechua, an Andean indigenous language spoken by many of these communities, but unfortunately being used less and less. We were doing this by creating extra-curricular spaces where children (from primary to high school) could receive tutoring in order to succeed in school (dropout rates in rural areas are very high), whilst strengthening their native language, which most times was not used on a daily basis at their school, but was still the language their parents primarily communicated in. This generational divide, expressed by the chosen language of communication, is due to the prevailing prejudice against indigenous and peasant communities in Peru. So for the parents I was working with, prioritizing Quechua was not always the most strategic option, especially if they saw their children’s futures as being based in nearby cities.

My response to the parent’s concerns regarding language preservation was for me to personally let go and respect their space and decisions in their relationship to me, and in the end, I felt my part was to understand their resistance to my hopes as an outsider and respect their own life projects and perceptions. We reformulated our project so as to respond to the real-life concerns of parents, whilst still keeping an expanding component of story-telling in order to support Quechua narratives and native oral history. When I let go of my romantic agenda of helping “save” Quechua, I realized the process of maintaining a language alive has to come from its speakers, especially children, who mostly use it for playing and in their daily chores. A part of this realization was learning the basics of Quechua and living with these families in their rural communities. One cannot judge what one does not know, and, as a European, I came to find my place in facilitating these communities’ intentions and projects, and not directing them.

9. Advice for other women?

Putting self-trust and hope as the first feeling and thought that moves you towards any decision/movement you make, whilst leaving fear behind.

10. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?

It depends on which women, with which past and current constraints, and what is for them being "all they can be". There is still a lot to be done in generating intra-sex equality, even within a country. I think the way forward for feminism and the search for equality between genders is to create communities of support within every workplace or arena that is still difficult for women (in their diversity) to be in. We need to be supportive of each other in order to have a bigger say in the public and private sphere. I believe informing other women (and men, and non-binary persons) of the challenges of representation and participation has an important role in creating this supportive environment at a local and global level. Additionally, these supportive environments should be everywhere we go, especially when travelling. I believe we are unstoppable as a collective.

11. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?

My happy 'place' is more a journey, than a 'place'. I feel the happiest, for example, when in a van/bike, going somewhere beautiful but unknown (a waterfall, a lake...)

12. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

An activity I am promoting and developing is C4SI (Collaborate for Social Innovation), a student-led programme that seeks to encourage students and international/non-profit organizations in engaging in social problem-solving through human-centred design. There is more and more, a shift to an integrated approach to innovation and entrepreneurship, which is seeking positive social impact, more than merely profit. C4SI tries to respond to this shift, by opening the space for participants to create the innovation processing in a 6-week period: from understanding how to place human beings at the centre of their solutions to a specific challenge (human-centred design); to prototyping, designing and communicating solutions, to presenting them and taking them forward based on an organization’s mission. C4SI is also interdisciplinary and gathers both technological, social and artistic components of innovation. If you’re just as excited about this as me, you can find more information here.
At the same time, I am currently interning at CARE International, a humanitarian agency focused on emergency relief and long-term development projects. As an operations intern at the CARE International Emergency Group, I am involved in monitoring, processing, interpreting and presenting emergency response data as it is coming in from CARE’s country offices all over the world, to facilitate communication across sectors, countries and regions, and improve accountability. This has been an interesting process as I am getting an in-depth understanding of the challenges of describing emergencies – especially humanitarian ones – in mere numbers. The complexity of the data appeals to the complexity of the situations lived in settings with long-term crisis and conflicts such as South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Additionally, this work has allowed me to explore the development-humanitarian nexus, as social and environmental fragility often facilitates the emergence of a crisis.

In my free time, I am returning to playing music and integrating singing/playing songs into my professional/work environment in a way that unites people I know.

13. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?

I want to be someone that is grounded enough in order to be there for others. I want to be someone that has not lost sensitivity towards the world's problems, whilst being practical enough and contributing to solving them in some way. One of the challenges to this is a lack of self-confidence and a big fear of failure.

14. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Definitely, again, the fear of failing to impact the world in a positive way, fear of being physically hurt, and the fear of not feeling whole alone.

15. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?

Not too much, but I would try to learn more languages as a child.

16. What inspires you?

Seeing dreamers and doers, participating in their joy and creativity. Witnessing compassionate acts.

17. What are you hopeful about?

I am hopeful that we are collectively learning from our mistakes, and going on a more positive, understanding path (for example, regarding climate change). I am hopeful that I will also do this personally, especially with my family.

18. What are some ingredients to a good life?

A healthy environment/mind/body, and a heart watered with love. Also, being by the sea is always a good thing.

19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

I am just starting to read "The God of Small Things", by Arundhati Roy. I mostly gift short-story books, mostly of authors whose books I have liked to read. My favourite reads are: The Earthsea Cycle Series by Ursula K. LeGuin, and "The Book of Embraces", by Eduardo Galeano.

20. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?

My mom, as she is a living example of a strong, intelligent and proactive woman, who always takes on life's challenges with trust and respect, whilst deepening her self-knowledge.

21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?

I am currently possibly developing an outlet to share my musical side, but for now, LinkedIn is the place where I share what I have been recently been up to, on the professional side of things. Feel free to contact me!