Fernanda Tenorio (23) and Vanessa Costa (25) both from Brazil has been on exchange in Norway for 9 months. Fernanda is a graduate in Social and Environmental Sciences and Vanessa is a biologist.  Through Hostelling International, a north-south FK exchange project between Norway and Brazil, they got an opportunity to change their work place for one year. Hostelling International Norway has worked on a defined strategy for promoting sustainability among its hotels. During their exchange period, Fernanda and Vanessa will focus on sustainability and conscious tourism.  FK Norway met them for a short interview in Bergen.  

What was your motivation to participate in a FK exchange project?

“This was an opportunity to make a difference and contribute to something important. I wanted to contribute with my skills and at the same time experiencing another culture and a different country.” says Fernanda.  “The exchange programme with FK gives me the opportunity to share experiences, create new things in collaboration with others and learn a lot” says Vanessa.

Tell us about your work at exchange? What tasks and responsibilities do you have?

Fernanda answers quickly “We are here to contribute with a different perspective and find new solutions. Where we come from, there is another form of administrative work and reality. It is natural that we bring inspiration to our new workplace. We bring another perspective from another "world”.  At the same time, we learn quite a lot too. This is knowledge we will bring back home.”

During these last months in Norway, they have worked in Gjøvik. Now they live in Bergen. “For us it was worrying to see how much food was wasted every day. This is not sustainable. We contacted “Too good to go” to establish a partnership with them. In Gjøvik we suggested to have a register and find out how much food is wasted per day and find solutions to reduce it. This is a great initiative for the hostel and it is sustainable.

We have also worked to improve the communication between the hostels, guests and the employees.  Last week we suggested some tools to improve registration and sale of the rooms in the various booking sites Hostelling use on the internet.”  Vanessa says.

In April, together with Naturforbundet, they organised a «Clothes Swapping Day» at HI Gjøvik Hovdetun. They used the slogan “Do you know how buying new clothes impacts the environment?” and it was a success.

Their biggest challenge so far, has been adapting to the Norwegian culture. “We find it difficult to get to know people”. Nevertheless, Vanessa and Fernanda have had amazing experiences in Norway as mushing in Lillehammer and learn Norwegian folk dance in Gjørvik.

Lastly, Fernanda says that she has become more tolerant and patient. Both of them agree that the social structures in the Norwegian society gives opportunities for equality, where everyone is considered just as important.  This is maybe a good way to be sustainable too. 

You can read more about this project and the participants activities here