Travelling together on a long run is a big risk for a couple, as we already experienced in South-East Asia. In the South of Brazil, as we do occasionally, we split for one week so as to give each other some space. Andrea went for few days to visit Tiago, a friend of his from Casias do Sul, while I picked up the most promising project on Workaway, hoping for being accepted. It took a while, but finally I got a positive answer.
Leo, co-founder: We are an education company and our values are cemented in ecology. We are an organic farm, our mission is to make education fascinating in all areas. Here you improve your language skills, but at the same time you learn about things like health, art, culture and many others.
The Fools is a place where people come to learn foreign languages, mainly English. They do so by participating in different kinds of activities.
Milena, co-founder: At the beginning we had a Portuguese name, although we started to organize English immersions. We decided to change it for The Fools. I think this name brought a lot of personality to the project: the foolish spirit of somebody who wants to have a new experience. And this is what we are: a place with many people who are open to learn.
Leo: At the beginning we started just with weekend courses, currently we offer also 3- or 5-day immersions, right now we are testing for the first time a 30-day edition.
I joined in the middle of those 30 days, having also the chance to experience the short editions, which bring to the farm way more people. All together there were around 30 students, 4 teachers and 7 volunteers who were speaking English 24/7. No other language is allowed, doesn't matter the level you have - among participants there were also complete beginners -. As crazy as it sounds, people not only survived it, a lot of them had the time of their lives.
Leo: It's really incredible how many people come here, in the middle of nowhere.
Diego, co-founder: And they are really happy about it! People tell us how their life changed after visiting The Fools. Lots of them drop their jobs and start to travel; or changed their eating habits, quitting soda, eating more vegetarian food.
Milena: One guy on the Whatsapp group sent us a photo of him doing yoga. He said: I didn't know it was so cool till I tried it at The Fools! In general the feedback we get is amazing. On Facebook we keep the rate to 4.9, although there is 30.000 people liking us. In Workaway, from where we get volunteers, we have 100% feedbacks valuating their experience here as excellent.
Also for me it was one of the best projects I joined. Since I arrived I was super-welcomed by everybody: workers, other volunteers, teachers, students. I started each day with yoga, 7.00. Then delicious, organic, vegetarian breakfast. At 9.00 first activity, 10.30 next one. At 12.30 lunch. From 14.00 third activity, 15.30 fourth, 17.00 watching a movie. Meanwhile coffee, tea, mate, fruits, cakes. Then dinner and evening activities. Everything in English. The activities were very diverse –different kinds of sport, cooking or dance classes, art, discussions, games, workshops related to public speaking, fast learning, but also sense of life, dreams, values, travelling, social impact. Nothing was obligatory, you choose when and for how long you want to join.
Leo: We want to make the environment as free as possible. You know better than us what you need for your life, when, for how long. If you don't want to join any activity right now, do something else – go to sleep, go for a walk. When you come back, you will be focused. If we all take care of ourselves, we have a more balanced dynamic.
Balance at The Fools comes not only from freedom of choice, but also through the breathtaking nature around, unbelievable food and all the small chats which happen in between. That's how people learn, change, experience. That's when the laughs are mixed with tears, people open up often for the first time in their life, being surrounded by strangers, who don't know them, don't have any label, who will most likely disappear from their life at the end of the stay. This allows for more honest, deep conversations, also over personal needs, values, passions, dreams. People start to believe things are possible. The Fools itself is the best example of it.
Leo: Creating this place was a step by step process. Initially we just wanted to live in the farm, we've never had this experience before. When we arrived, nothing was here, it was basically an abandoned farm. But nature was so amazing. The first thing we did was to paint some benches. Little things. We thought: it's so foolish, there are so many things to do, so much investment, why should we even start? If we did think logically that time we would never have tried. I think our naivety helped us a lot.
Today The Fools not only became a reality, they are also growing a lot, expanding to different cities, soon also to other countries. They've organized around 150 events, for over 3000 people. They have 15 employees and 55 part-time collaborators. They plan to be opened 24/7, 365 days per year for those who want to learn. They want to produce their own food and be fully independent from the energy point of view, combining in this way two of their main goals: education and an ecological, healthy lifestyle. How is that possible?
Diego: Follow your heart and don't give up in the middle. Believe in what you are doing. It may take time, relax. It's not something which will happen overnight.
Leo: And don't lose track of the joy. Enjoy what you are doing. Don't expect joy to come to you, find the joy first and then things become less work and more like a day out. And if every single day of your life is like a day out ... man, that can't be a bad life!
Milena: I remember that at the beginning we realized that the word “work” has a lot of meanings attached to it. It's such a heavy word with a lot of load. We decided what we do should not be called work, but fun. Let's do some fun.
More about The Fools: thefools.com.br