Where inspiration meets desperation and dreams meet self-deprecation.
And where every post has a link. Click them and get lost.
—Lost (ft. Noname Gypsy)
Damn, I’m so deep girl
Probably ‘cause you’re so empty
Werner Herzog on creativity, self-reliance, money, and how to make a living of doing what you love – wisdom culled from an epic 600-page interview.
July 10, 2014
Student Awards & Financial Aid
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Friends from CECA and Velocity/CBET,
Hi, I’ve written to your colleagues from SAFA how I’m sure they’re tired of reading through countless award applications by this point. I suppose you’d be in the same position. I understand then that you’d be more interested in an entertaining performance, a dance or a one-man-show perhaps. Unfortunately for you, you can’t have that thing you want right now. Tell you what though, making this ambitious student happy with the Ontario Global Edge Award is a reasonable consolation.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Elvin Madamba and I am 20 years old going into my third year majoring in Environment & Resource Studies, minoring in English Language & Literature, as well as working on an International Development option. I’m on the loose; my scholarly hubris is taking me places I couldn’t even have imagined in my first year. I have recently been to Costa Rica through Queen’s University for Environmental Policy and now I’m looking at a Social Entrepreneurial co-op experience in the Philippines for Fall 2014 and an exchange experience at the University of Birmingham for Winter 2015. But as hubris goes, there is that downfall and that ruin heroes face. As for me, it looks like money (or lack thereof) will be my nemesis.
You’re not as concerned with that narrative as much as you are concerned with my interest in international entrepreneurial endeavours. So here it goes! I was frustrated by the lack of movement with my university career as I wrote Thank-You e-mails for the University’s Office of Advancement during my first co-op term. During those e-mails and scholarly student profile updates, I realized something. UWaterloo has a plethora of young innovators—plenty entrepreneurial promise. I wanted to be part of that culture. I started to brainstorm for my next co-op job; I wanted to do something meaningful.
Excuse me as I get personal here. You see, my grandfather recently passed away (may his soul rest in peace) and my uncle just retired. So my dad and I came up with a co-op plan (Job Information Form received by Marlene Wrubel on May 9th 2014) inspired by my grandfather’s ethos, my uncle’s financial capital, and my family’s social capital. We came up with this job description:
To survey the Philippine landscape, being a component of the global arena, for the establishment of a social enterprise that would suit the temperament and character; embody the value system and aspirations; represent the current situation; and capture the individual and joint experiences, interests, and lines of expertise of the Madamba family members who seek to perpetuate the memory and legacy of their patriarch – Dr. Isagani L Madamba.
My uncle’s company is a small and start-up social enterprise company—My Heart Corporation. Initially, there will only be three people working for my uncle – his hired supervisor, the incredibly innovative and also my childhood friend, Sarah; my friend Jake (whom is a Geography Waterloo co-op student); and—of course—me. My placement as you might have already deduced will be in The Philippines. Yes, The Philippines, The Filipino Market is Bigger than You Think .
When I was in Costa Rica I was taken aback by their economy’s reliance on ecotourism, 90% actually; it’s quite amazing. Since The Philippines share the same Spanish colonial history, biodiversity, urban and rural beauty, and equator line, I wish and strive for a similar economic development for The Philippines as Costa Rica. There is not a specific business idea yet since our job requires to immerse ourselves in the Philippine landscape, society, and culture prior to. But I would love it to be in the vein of social and ecotourism where it captures the character, intellect, and hospitality of my late grandfather, whom is a personification of The Philippine spirit. For now, think of socially and ecologically sustainable cafés, hostels, beach-side villas, and self-sustaining mountain communities; imagine Costa Rica intersecting with France, Germany, UK, and Japan.
Thank you for your time and consideration! Attached are additional documents that may be of aid. I hope to hear back with a positive decision from you folks. If not, and you turn me down, realize that Jake and I have a standing offer from the President of the Philippines to dance Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” while we direct traffic on the streets of Manila . We will be paid handsomely (we won’t actually, so please).
 Statistics Canada, Analysis of the Canadian immigrant labour market, 2008 to 2011: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/71-606-x/2012006/part-partie1-eng.htm
 Ontario Government, Export outside Canada: international trade and market specialists: https://www.ontario.ca/business-and-economy/export-outside-canada-international-trade-and-market-specialists
 Marketing Magazine CA, Multicultural Marketing: The Filipino Market is Bigger than You Think: http://www.marketingmag.ca/brands/multicultural-marketing-the-filipino-market-is-bigger-than-you-think-48461%20
 Dancing Traffic Cop Only in the Philippines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PfKsF0B7Uc&feature=kp
Findings from research psychologist Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, who also asked a sample pool of volunteers to spend a month applying these four principles and found that 80% emerged “happier, more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps most important of all, luckier.”
Pair with how to make your own luck.
July 2, 2014
Student Awards & Financial Aid
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Friends from SAFA,
I’m sure you’re tired of reading through countless award applications by this point. I suppose you’d be more interested in even a magic trick than you’d be in granting university students financial aid for their dreams and ambitions. But of course, you can’t have the one thing you want the most. I guess making a student happy with a travel award is a decent consolation.
My name is Elvin Madamba and I am 20 years old going into my third year majoring in Environment & Resource Studies, minoring in English Language & Literature, as well as working on an International Development option. I’m on the loose; my scholarly hubris is taking me places I couldn’t even have imagined in my first year. I have recently been to Costa Rica through Queen’s University for Environmental Policy and now I’m looking at a Social Entrepreneurial co-op experience in the Philippines for Fall 2014 and an exchange experience at the University of Birmingham for Winter 2015. But as hubris goes, there is that downfall, that ruin heroes face. As for me, it looks like money (or lack thereof) will be my nemesis.
While my excitement for these opportunities can hardly be contained, it is somewhat quelled if I have to think about how these experiences would stretch my families’ finances. In the past, I have relied on my parents’ RESP contributions, the collective you that is the Student Awards & Financial Aid of the University of Waterloo, and OSAP and other loans and grants to inspiringly fund my ambitions and dreams.
I’m writing to you once again to tickle the University’s good grace and generosity. I hope to secure awards that would help alleviate some of the costs of my upcoming co-op experience in the Fall. Don’t worry about my Winter exchange at Birmingham just yet, you bet I will write to you again.
Personally, I do not expect to be able to contribute financially for my upcoming co-op experience abroad because:
I have spent more than half of my savings from my co-op stint at the University’s Office of Advancement to go on the Costa Rica trip that would earn me 1.0 credits for my core requirements in ERS. I received minimal external financial help for this besides from my own funds.
Due to the nature of my trip and my study term, I’m also not able to land a part-time/summer job that could have allowed me to fundraise. Regardless, I’m incredibly excited for my second co-op work term in the Philippines in a cultural work immersion. It is a fantastic experience that relates to my main focus of study in ERS and InDev, but it is a co-op experience that would pay very minimally just to get by for food and accommodation. Your financial aid will still be greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately also, I’m a child of separated parents and I’m under my father’s custody. My mother provides me with minimal financial assistance rarely, if any at all. My father tries to provide for my studies as much as he can, but between our house’s mortgages, basic and general living costs, his generous and giving character (some of our family and friends owe my father a lot of money), there is only so much money to go around, even for his only son. Though, he believes that any experience that propels my future is an experience worth all the costs; I quote in an e-mail he sent me, “If we need to raise funds through loans, etc. we can just otherwise call it ‘investment’ … [we will pay eventually anyway]. I suggest, let’s just keep going and assume that financing is the least of our worries, better yet let’s continue to pray because our God provides. Besides, let’s do our part by being frugal in other ways. What I want to say is let’s pull in all the stops to pursue what we/you want to achieve, knowing that such are noble, worthwhile and good, for lack of a better term.”
This award application is just one of the many stops we hope to pull. Other stops we’re considering include personal fundraising (ie. e-mailing friends and family telling them I’m off to do something useful in society), external scholarships, grants, and loans, and garage sales.
There is no telling if this letter was enough or too much. If you turn me down, I realize this would not be a huge deal since there are only so many awards to go around. But keeping that in mind: I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have been provided with to study and work. I’m well aware that many kids from all over the world would trade what they have (or don’t have) to be in my position. So carry on, I will, emphasizing that I am an ambassador of ambitious scholarship.