Janice de Graça describes herself as a “People Alchemist”, in there lies the idea of helping with transformation and growth and the expression of her commitment to empower and inspire others to feel, to think and to act in finding their true selves as well as build up the best version of themselves.
The poet and blogger, who graduated with high distinction in Social Policy from the University of Lisbon and with a post graduate degree in Art Education from the Open University of Lisbon believes that competing with oneself and collaborating with others creates the environment to easily foster change especially in the area of — and saving the planet.
At 33, Janice has engaged in volunteering, empowering and advocacy works for the past 18 years and believes in sharing her experiences through capacity building for global evolution.
Touching on her professional life, she narrated the challenges she faced defining herself as a professional in any field. She said: “The world tells us about having a specific profession and be part of a specific box. I never fit in. I like different areas of knowledge. I studied Science, Social Sciences, Art and literature and economics. I engaged in different approaches on my social intervention: social policy, community intervention, arts, writing, mentoring, coaching, facilitating, advocating, motivating, and organizing events and so on. I embrace my multiplicity.”
With the mindset of making a positive impact on our world, working with a multidisciplinary, integrative and cross-cultural approach, Janice has developed keen interest in Youth Activism with the conscious effort of actively participating in measures that “protect the planet”.
She narrates that “As a kid, I was very conscious about the need to protect our planet. I would never throw away trash and if I saw someone doing it, even if it was an adult, I would try to prevent it; as a teenager, I was always trying to mediate conflicts ad naturally engaging on activities with a bigger purpose and trying to defend and empower oppressed people.”
“I do believe in my responsibility to share all the blessings I´ve been given by God with the world, and all the skills I developed through hard work and contemplation to help to build a better world for all of us. I was blessed with an amazing education, a loving family; a capacity to put words out in a way that compels people to feel, think and take action and I am responsible for using those gifts for global evolution. I believe in my capacity to learn and to learn how to do better when what I know is not enough”
She also identified that one of the major issues facing young people today, across the world, is the difficulty of having their own voice and being able to put their thoughts out there. “Even some outstanding young people out there, some with relevant positions and a relevant set of achievements, are not speaking with their voice but with someone else´s words and beliefs. This wicked problem calls for a combined set of solutions”, she said.
Janice noted that there is the need for a revolution from a set of youth who are willing and ready to challenge the status-quo. She said although people who challenge the status-quo, the “sacred rules” of their time are seen as dangerous there is the need to educate our children on acceptance, cooperation, courage and to stand true to their values and what they believe in because it is children that grow up to become the youth of the nation and continent at large.
Janice currently runs AfriYAN Cabo Verde, serves on the board of AfriYAN West and Central Africa; a continental Network which she describes as a symbol of African global connections and youth empowerment for social change.
She said it provides a way to achieve more “if we work together and exchange experiences and opportunities between each other.”
In 2017, she was nominated to attend the AfriYAN West and Central Africa restructuration, in Senegal, by the Cape Verdean Youth Federation.
She recalls that “At that moment, I was thinking about “retiring” from youth activism to dedicate to my professional projects and that was supposed to be my last consultation on that level. However, as a delegate from my country, representing the Cape-Verdean youth, I felt that it was my duty to present my candidature to the board of AfriYAN West and Central Africa, as a way to approach Cape Verdean youth to youth from others countries on the continent. It was very competitive but we made it. AfriYAN Cabo Verde was born out of this experience. The principal objective of this first mandate is to implement the project in Cabo Verde and set the bases for future collaboration.”
Janice also started the Verbum Tactus, a special project which begun with the sole aim of voicing her thoughts, feelings and reflections in articles, poetry and quotes. She describes it in her blog as to “invite to feel, think and take action.”
According to the blogger cum poet, this became an art education project combining writing, photography, video and performance as a way of social intervention. You can follow the blog here: , and the Facebook Page here:
Answering questions on what three things she will channel her energy into, granted she’s the President of Africa, Janice listed education, inclusion and global partnerships for sustainable development. She elaborates further below:
Education – promoting an education as I describe that I believe that is needed on previous questions, involving skills as cooperative mindset, peace, self-confidence, emotional intelligence and similar.
Inclusion – creating spaces for everyone and respect for human rights.
Global partnerships for Sustainable Development – the world, especially Africa with all its natural resources, have resources for everyone to live happy and prosper. We are just using it in the wrong way.
She also advised the youth to “Work on yourself, find your best version, be happy, build prosperity, and give back to your community, with love. Dream and dare to make your dreams come true: our dreams together will build the world we dream about. This is your legacy to everyone who will come after you. When one person evolve, everything evolves around them.”