More than 100 contributors, including institutions from at least 15 nations attended the three-day event. These included pathway providers such as Study Group and Navitas, universities from Europe, the US, and Australia; as well as businesses from other sectors like the International House group and ELS.
“The most successful ones have embraced emotions and failure”
“It is when we embrace failure in general that we open ourselves up to learning, to growing and to happiness,” said Tal Ben-Shahar, the renowned presenter and GATE plenary speaker.
Learning and growing educationally, personally, and professionally aren’t necessarily an outcomes of a happy and fulfilling moment of life, but instead consequences of how one deals with failure, the Israeli-American writer and educator argued.
Welcomed by a packed auditorium, he delivered a humorous and cheerful lecture, ‘Education and Flourishing: the science of a better life’, on how dealing with failure is crucial to self-development.
“The most successful are the ones who have embraced emotions and, in general, embraced failure. One of the sentences I repeat over and over again to my students, to myself, to my children is ‘learn to fail or fail to learn’. There is no other way to grow, to learn and, ultimately, to live a full and fulfilling life. Open ourselves up to unhappiness is the first step to happiness”, Ben-Shahar said to the prospective international students and their parents.
In this process, stress is a major factor, he explained. As an example, he cited data that shows that 94% of HE students in the United States are stressed. In his opinion, stress is not necessarily bad: it can make students stronger, more resilient, better fitted to deal with difficulties in life.
“We can deal with stress. The difference is that in the past there was a lot more time to recovery. Today we’re on 24/7 and we pay a very high price for it”, said Ben Shahar.
The best way to cope with it, according to the lecturer, is to give yourself “permission to be human”: accept and confront emotions that show up when things go awry,
“The difference between the successful ones and the others is not stress. They all experience stress. The difference between them is the approach to recovery”, sums Tal Ben-Shahar.
Sponsorship of the event was led by STB, with other funding coming from Brazil’s largest paper exporter, and the shopping centre where the fair was held.
Danilo Vital is a freelance journalist based in São Paulo. Since 2010 he has worked across various media, including for Brazilian agency Enjoy Intercâmbio in Dublin.