An unforgettable year
As 2023 is coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on what will be remembered in the Native Scientists history as a very special year and the 10th anniversary year. 28th of June 2013 marked the day when Native Scientist (now plural), was firstly registered as a social enterprise in London (UK). In reality, the Native project was born way before that date in the founders’ mind. Joana Moscoso and Tatiana Correira were two Portuguese researchers working in London in different scientific fields, biology and physics. Besides their love for science and science communication, they also shared a deep feeling of social responsibility and social justice. “Growing up in a remote area of Portugal, I never had a chance to meet a scientist until university. Therefore, I always felt a strong drive to talk to children about my work, to break this barrier of access to science that I had felt as a child,” says Joana, Director of Native Scientists. Living in a multicultural city like London, Joana and Tatiana realised that there are many different types of barriers for children to access science. For migrant children, language and cultural background might be a barrier, even in a city like London. Realising about the numbers of inequalities existing in education, they decided to contribute to breaking those barriers and started working with schools to engage children with science in their home language: Native Scientists was born.
Ten years that day, Native marked the date with a celebration logo and a commemorative memory book, “10 years Broadening the horizons of children through Science”. Francesco Guarracino, who started working at Native as an Erasmus Student and is now a Manager for the Same Migrant Community (SMC) Programme, says that collecting the experiences, outcomes and wishes of the people whose lives were impacted by Native Scientists made him realise how fundamental is the work carried on by Native Scientists. Since that very first workshop for the Portuguese community in London, Native Scientists work has established over 25,000 meaningful connections between children and scientists across various languages and countries and through their two programmes: SMC Programme and the Same Home Town (SHT) Programme.
In a continuum of celebrations, Native members also got together in November, first online for the yearly annual meeting, and then in person for a special celebration weekend. The online meeting was the chance to reflect on the journey so far and look into the future, bringing together both the volunteer and the full-time members of the organisation. It was also a moment of discussion about the importance of promoting multilingualism in science with Dr Timothy Douglas, guest speaker of the event advocating for “a nurturing environment for languages in science”. Joining a global movement and with a network of over 3,000 scientists, Native’s aim is to “broaden the horizons of children so that every child can reach their full potential no matter what their background is. We use science as a means to do so and we engage the scientific community, bringing forward the day where no child goes through school education without ever meeting a scientist with whom they can relate to” says Joana.
Last but not least, the celebration year ended with the weekend in Porto and Valença (Portugal). Hosted from the Critical Software offices in Porto, the Native’s team spend the morning learning from their supporter about different practices in the management tech companies and how they can be applied to improve understanding of team dynamics and work relationships - an important lesson that will certainly guide the future shape of Native’s team. The afternoon saw the joint participation of Native, Teach for Portugal and Companhia do Estudo in an intense hands-on workshop of knowledge exchange, sharing strengths and challenges of working to drive systems changes and creating positive impacts in education and society. The workshop was an opportunity for like-minded organisations to discuss innovative solutions to transform education and build a better world.
The day in Porto ended with a behind the scene tour of the Porto Natural History Museum and a dinner, where in her thanks speech Joana said “Things have been busy, sometimes intense, often in the limits of the comfort zone, but in general, each one of us has been fully present, embracing the vision, mission, and values of the organisation, taking the driving seat, and making things happen for everyone, especially the children of the underserved communities we are working with. Looking forward to the growth, challenges and fun of the next 10 years.” The weekend continued with a few more social activities in Porto and Valença, Joana’s hometown, contributing to creating a stronger sense of community and reinforcing the team’s common purpose of promoting fair and quality science education for underserved children.