Name: Marcia Exposto e Silva
Institution: University of New England, Armidale
Course of study: Master of Science in Agriculture (Major in Agronomy and minor in Soil Science)
Born and raised in Caicoli, Dili, Marcia Exposto e Silva grew up in a poor family. She had a happy childhood but her parents circumstances meant that she and her siblings had to help them by selling vegetables to sustain their daily needs.
Growing up Marcia didn’t have a specific goal, she just wanted to get a job, earn money and live a better life. “I dreamt of liberating my family from poverty”.
However, as a child she was always fascinated by plants, which looking back she thinks that is what led her to her current job and field of study.
Marcia is currently working as a national consultant for the Community Forestry Project, working closely with local farmers in the field, partnering with government instituitions and leading programs that benefit the community.
Working for an agriculture organisation, has made her especially concerned about the impact of climate change and how it’s affecting the way people grow food and live. ‘We need to scale up and be smart in adapting not only to a fast-changing world but also to our climate’.
In 2016 Marcia gained an Australia Awards Scholarship to study for a master’s degree in Science in Agriculture at The University of New England.
Her experience studying in Australia helped her to feel more confident and independent. It also changed the way she thinks and acts. “I learnt to live with people that have different beliefs and cultures, I believe this is needed in our society today, to be an open-minded individual.” She also became more attuned to equality and social inclusion issues.
Shortly after Marcia returned to Timor-Leste she was elected as Board President of the Timor-Leste Australia Alumni Association (TL3A) for 2020 – 2022 period in recognition of her leadership ability. Marcia and the TL3A Board have ambitious plans for the TL3A incuding involve all alumni in each sector group on the annual planning session day and build and strengthen the involvement of all team members to implement the activities of the annual planning session. Most recently they’ve focused on delivering support for the Government’s COVID-19 response.
Marcia believes that the characteristics of good leadership are planted within women and that ‘Having women that are strong and smart and a leader ensures the next generation can be better.’
In Timor-Leste’s context, Marcia thinks that the number one barrier for a women to be a leader is the culture or the mindset of the community that limits the movement of women and keeps them at home. Safety is also an isssue and the protection for women’s rights is also not strong enough.
Her biggest concern for the future however is to influence young people in a positive way through stories. She has big ambitious to write books (novels or educational books) and to run a business that can create jobs for the young people.
You can read more about the work of the TL3A here https://www.australiaawardstl.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/TL3A-Newsletter-June-2020-Web.pdf