Speaking on the biggest tech festival in the world Campus Party Brazil, a peak into a complete new culture of misfits and changemakers


by Nick van Breda

Last week I had the opportunity to fly to Brazil with social capital, I was invited as a speaker in November by members of communities, those who helped with promoting Campus party Europe last May I Co-organized.

Brazilians (over 150) that were expats in Europe that joined CPEU4 (Campus Party Europe #4) were from a community that call themselves Campus Party International Club, a Facebook group of 1500 members. They got a free tent at our event and they offered without me asking to come over to Brazil for the 10th edition there. I was not even seriously considering this was a real thing until they made an Campuse.ro event with my name on it as a speaker. Before I knew they had 34 people signed up for my talk and the organisation of Campus Party considered this as interesting enough to pay for my flight and really get a stage.

Tents in Campus Party Netherlands
Tents in Campus Party Brasil 10

I was extremely happy with such an opportunity, I never thought I would be ever speaking that far from home. 5500 miles away from the Netherlands in Sao Paulo. The community offered a place to sleep and I didn’t have to plan a thing… … Until 3 weeks before the event I received an email that my flight could no longer be payed for due a big sponsorship that dropped out.

I was devastated, had some weird nights of sleep and the community was sorry, they were not able to help me also on this flight but wanted to help with setting up a crowdfunding “Get Nick to CPBR10 for €10”. I shared this on my Facebook timeline and the first reply was: “where can I donate?” I was so emotional that a Facebook friend who I never met in person was so generous to donate that before I knew Society3.0 was sponsoring the complete flight. I couldn’t believe it and cried of joy. Before I knew it I was flying out from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo.

Community, community, community

Communities I was about to meet, 4 huge groups with 200+ members attending. They were all amazing. From lightsaber community, to Just Dance community, to International Campusero Club and Noibe, a young developers community. All were receiving me like they were my host for the whole event and that felt amazing.

Perks I didn’t expect

First they got me an apartment to sleep at, then they asked if I wanted to sleep in a tent as well and they arranged it! After a tour in the Arena I found my buddies from Campus Party Europe in NL who arranged me free food for the whole week,   than I got Cabify (Taxi) discounts and at night they did everything to make me a decent caipirinha. I didn’t even mention the cheesebread I was getting on the airport when I was picked up by Rodrigo Almeida, the person that arrived first last year on our event.

The event

Days filled with 200 hours of presentations, workshops, tournaments & hackathons. I enjoyed amazing speakers, 7 different Hackathons, entertainment for day guests and activities ran by communities made that this week was going to be over soon. It was so great to see that even if you are Brazilian and never have to speak English at least everyone tried and were excusing all the time for their English even though I was really happy to be able to speak to so many, hundreds of Campuseros.

From world champions in Pepper robot dancing competition towards cheering for the lightsaber championship and laughing at hundreds of people dancing on ridiculous songs this was definitely an unconventional event that is powered by 10 years of outgoing nerds, gamers, makers and those who I can identify myself with when I turned into an entrepreneur after quitting gaming.

A wise lesson and practice

What I learned from them is: be accepting newcomers, whether it are refugees or just tourists like me you can learn a lot from them and they wish to learn from you. I was given so much that I want to do so much in return and that’s human, giving back and the trick is giving without asking something in return.

The amazing type of persons you meet there

Even though people there complained about so much corruption in their country and way too high taxes for entrepreneurs they were enjoying the moments in the Campus together. No one entered that Arena alone, no one left that party alone.

This reunited all those that live a digital life, many of them being lonely once back at home because they are misunderstood, they are the 1% misfits that can change society with their skills once they get a goal and mission in life. That was for me the biggest reason to be here: tell about my life as a gamer and how I changed it into becoming helpful for society what they could do as well.

Misfit represents for me someone that does not fit in the group or system. They have struggles finishing standard schooling, fitting in popular groups on school, sports, outside life.

Most of them miss social interactions during youth, most of them find these interaction in different worlds (f.e. Fiction/digital games). They don’t conform to fashion or looking good (for who?) they get their motivation through in game achievements, community achievements. Imagine 1% of society having interest in what you do, how hard is it to find friends nearby then?

I have had similar experiences, never stood out always the person caretaking of the community (in game). And on Saturday I had the opportunity to speak 45 minutes about it to around 40 Brazilian campuseros. My presentation was impactful I came to realize. I gave away two shirts from our CPEU and right after lots of young gamers, design thinkers for Ford, community leaders approached me and expressed similarities with my life and how this was an eye opener to them. They immediately wanted to change their life and around 5 high school students were promising me to start organising hackathons in their school. I completely lost my voice helping them one by one for several hours, some asking for advice for their brother who had zero interest in learning and was gaming 24/7. After this day I was accepting hundred Facebook friend requests from several communities over there. I introduced them to how to turn their society into our society and that it might be not so far away if they were able to look at abundance and start using it. Seats2meet they never heard of but in Sao Paulo we figured out over 20 hosts were there already, several post-normal organisations they had never heard of before that they would find amazing and made them believe they could change so much as an individual.

UN representatives, sponsors who believe in these misfits are in my eyes those who are helping so many hidden potential unlock in 1 week per year. Because if you train misfits in social and entrepreneurship skills and give them a stage they are the ones who can tackle any world problem and that’s why it bothers me that Campus Party Europe 5 won’t be this year in the Netherlands. Because short wins is not what you get here, its about enabling a community to put their hands on different challenges while having fun and meeting new like minded individuals. And pulling out sponsorships like what happened in the Netherlands is like saying they are not important enough. So I returned after this amazing week back in Holland and immediately joined the Campus Party Portugal organization to give people there the same stage I received to tell my story.

I hope to receive many Brazilian communities here (CPPT1 30-6 June/4-7 July Cascais, Portugal) to show how boring our individualistic and stressy Western life is compared to their collaboration culture. I vow for a mix of both best sides so we can solve global problems with global minds.

Thank you for your time to read this post. It was not possible without the last minute help of Society3.0, I want to especially thank Ronald van den Hoff for giving me the opportunity to be there.

Here you can find more photo’s of the week and the keynote that I gave