Silvio Silva, Brazilian high schooler takes initiative in his community to prepare for a future in politics


Credit: Silvio Luiz Antunes de Silva

Silvio Silva (left) stands with the president of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Competition (middle) and the proprietor of one of the biggest scientific olympiads in Brazil (right).

Editor’s note: This story is part of the Global Ties Kalamazoo and Knight Life Series. On Jan. 17 and Jan. 23 Global Ties Kalamazoo’s Youth Ambassador program from Brazil visited Knight Life. These stories are a result of the students’ discussions with one another.


Although in the United States government classes are commonplace for high school students, for Silvio Luiz Antunes de Silva, who lives in Brazil, learning about politics takes more effort. 

Silva came to the United States through Global Ties Kalamazoo, embarking on his journey into politics by learning about government, networking and familiarizing himself with American culture. 

“I plan to continue my journey, the political part,” Silva explained, planning to go into politics in Brazil after college. “Asking people to vote for me, talking to political parties, all those things.”

Silva is currently fifteen, but has been pursuing his dream through diligent organizing and community service.  

“In Brazil I think I have more than 4 projects. I have one small business website development, I have a start up about education, I have one about the environment, I have a little school of Model UN , and the one I used to get here was the student council…” said Silva. “We develop projects about mental health, we develop projects about gender equality, we get donations.”

The leader is not the best in anything, they are just good at finding the right people for their team

— Silvio Luiz Antunes de Silva

Students who are focused on preparing for college and improving conditions for their communities are forced to take initiative and start their own programs, giving Silva leadership knowledge that will benefit him in future endeavors. 

Silva plans to attend Harvard, following in the footsteps of his favorite politician, Tabata Amaral, who broke many boundaries in Brazilian politics. 

“My biggest inspiration is Tabata Amaral, she came from a public school, she got accepted to Harvard and she studied there,” said Silva. “She was elected in Brazil when she was only 24.”

According to Women Political Leaders, Amaral, now 27, got her beginnings in scientific competitions. Silva himself has participated in several scientific competitions.

“In Brazil, 20 million students participate in competitions every year and just 3 thousand get a medal. Out of those 20 million, only 10 get into international competitions,” said Silva. 

Silva is a part of an organization called the Bridge Institute, which allows him to participate in various different competitions which test his proficiency in math and science. He began competing in the eighth grade in regional and national competitions and moved onto international competitions by the tenth grade. 

Around four months ago, Silva represented Brazil in an international science competition and he won gold.

Not only is Amaral an inspiration to Silva because they both began in scientific competitions, but she is also an anomaly in the Brazilian Congress.

“[Normally, politicians] come from rich families: they’re men and white people. She is a poor woman and young,” said Silva. 

On his journey into politics and becoming another person of color in Congress, he chose to enter the Youth Ambassador program. 

Silva is one of only two selected youth ambassadors in Brazil for the US Embassy, going through an intense application process to get there. This includes starting off with an online application, and after getting selected through that moving to essays, different forms about projects, an exam with more essays and lastly an in-person interview. 

“They selected me, there’s a national committee that chooses between these two guys. And, I got in,” said Silva. 

Overall, Amaral’s story as well as his success in various competitions and projects has inspired Silva to go into politics and he is prepared to lead.  

“The leader is not the best in anything, they are just good at finding the right people for their team,” Silva continued.  “I don’t know everything about the environment. I don’t know how to develop a website, I just know how to meet people that are good in those areas so they can help me with those projects.” 

For Brazilian students like Silva, making a difference and preparing for the future takes conscious effort and initiative, making his many accomplishments even more significant.