Becoming a Leader at E-Fest SA

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“I'll only go if you go.” “I’ll only go if you go too.” And just like that, I walked into the first student lead meeting on a mission to bring E-Fest SA to Brazil. I didn’t know how much work, stress and responsibility were ahead, and had no clue of how much it would change and teach me. However, now I can say this experience was worth it.  
 
Since the beginning, we (the student lead team) knew that planning E-Fest South America would be a big challenge. Brazil had never hosted such an extensive, diverse, and international event for engineering undergraduates and we had about one semester to make it happen.

First, we had to organize the team and our thoughts on what E-Fest should be like, here in UFRJ (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro). Once that was settled, the real challenge began. Turning our ideas into reality required everyone to work hard, develop skills fast by trial and error, and come up with quick solutions to the problems we faced. In the end, we managed to sell tickets, get sponsors, set up the logistics and have various competitions, lectures, exhibitions, mini-courses, lab visits, and more during the three-day program.
 
It was time for the big opening of E-Fest South America. I was very nervous and anxious to finally show everyone what was it that I had been working on non-stop. As the days passed, I realized that E-Fest had surprised even me. I had not foreseen its atmosphere. The cheering and fun in every competition, the curiosity and interest in the lab visits, the effort from the South American Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) teams, the opportunities for networking, the look on the faces of the students as they came out of a mini-course or lecture. 

E-Fest was more than I expected and I could not have felt more proud and fulfilled. Just three days paid off more than six months of hard work and a few sleepless nights.

I would like to thank the other lead students, the professors, the volunteers, the sponsors, the supporters, and the ASME team. Without them, I would not have learned and enjoyed it as much as I did with this opportunity. The most important lesson E-Fest taught me was to never give up on what you believe in and always do your best to achieve it. 
 
With all that being said, I would definitely do it all over again if I had to. Only next time, instead of saying “I'll only go if you go,” I would be saying “You should come with me because I know that you are not going to regret it.”
 
Mariana Tavares is a member of the 2018-2019 E-Fest Leadership Program
 
If your university is interested in hosting a future E-Fest, checkout the Host Application
 
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