School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

From Sao Paulo to Kingston

Vanessa and Josafa Silva e Silva

​June 19, 2015

By Natalia Mukhina

In the middle of spring 2015, Vanessa Silva e Silva and her spouse Josafa covered the distance of almost 9,000 km between Sao Paulo, Brazil and Kingston, to start a new chapter in their lives. “The flight took nearly 12 hours,” Vanessa remembers, “and when we finally landed, it seemed like we had fallen into a movie… everything looked a bit unreal around us.” Now they both appear to be at home, and are ready to deal with matters that are very real.

As a PhD student in nursing at the Federal University of Sao Paulo and at Queen’s University, Vanessa focuses on legislation issues in the field of organ donation and transplantation. She is undoubtedly passionate about this challenging investigation. “Brazil has only 13.3 donors per million of population. It is not enough! Just compare it with, say, Spain or the USA, which have at least three or four times more donors,” she says. “I want to understand why. It is my personal goal.”

Vanessa will be doing her doctoral degree at Queen’s School of Nursing, after attaining a Science Without Borders (SWB) scholarship in partnership with CALDO.

The CALDO Consortium (of which Queen's is a member), works with national scholarship programs in Latin America (such as SWB), providing a unique, single point of access and support for students interested in studying at one of Canada’s major research universities.

In less than four years, CALDO has welcomed over 700 Latin-American students to its nine member universities, matching young researchers with academic programs in Canada that suit their research interests.

“Brazilian legislation in the area of organ and tissue donation borrows much from the European and North American legislation,” explains Vanessa. “That is why the SWB program is a great chance for me to see how matters stand in Canada and worldwide. I would be happy to transfer the best legislative practices to my country. I am very glad that I can be a part of this story and will be able to help people in Brazil.”

While Vanessa is speaking about her research interests and plans for the future, her husband Josafa is recording her speech on video. He explains: “Being in Canada is an amazing experience for both of us! We decided to shoot film of all sorts of events in our new Canadian life. We created a YouTube channel, with the purpose to share information. In Brazil, there are a lot of people, mostly students, who would like to learn more about Canada, the School of English, and the PhD program. We speak Portuguese and English, and we can help  pull our countries together through intercultural communication.”

Josafa knows quite a bit about this topic. He volunteers as a Student Ambassador at the Queen’s School of English. Josafa is a specialist in information technology, and has served as an IT infrastructure supervisor in Brazil. He is going to continue working in Kingston. Meanwhile, he is polishing up his English.

“Moving to a new country is a big thing, definitely,” Josafa says. “We had to change a lot in our routines, habits and even way of thinking, but we have an advantage. There are two of us,” Josafa smiles, “and as a family, we will cope with all challenges”

“Surely, we are missing our parents and friends,” Vanessa adds, “but we are a couple, and it is a great luck to have a loved one who supports and inspires you.”

Asked about their impressions of Kingston, Josafa and Vanessa are unanimous: “It is a lovely place, and people here are really friendly and well-wishing. We feel welcome everywhere! Queen’s staff do their best to support us. Thanks to the Queen’s University International Centre and the School of Nursing, we could settle in a new place quickly enough, and things have been good.”

What makes Vanessa and Josafa unique is that they are not merely a couple. They are friends and partners, united by common goals and aspirations, and this helps them socialize successfully in new environments. “It is thanks to the support that Queen’s people give us,” Vanessa says. “With friends like them, we are where we have dreamt to be.”

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