monday: mauá secretary of education
tuesday: return to são paulo; rest, read, write
wednesday: university of são paulo
this week has been busy and it’s not over. i am definitely not complaining ’cause this is what i came here for. here’s what been going on since the last post.
after i retrieved my bag early monday morning, i took the cab ride back to my apartment from the airport. i was sleep for most of it. when i got in, i happily put all of my things away and started getting ready for the day. i needed to be in mauá (mawa like wawa without the first w) by 2pm, which meant that i needed to leave around 12:45pm. i went to the jewish bakery next door got some amazing bread and peanut butter cookies for my host, beth (betchee). i realize i never mentioned anything about my neighborhood, higienópolis. it once was mostly inhabited by brazilian jews (who probably immigrated from europe after world war II in response to brazil’s attempts to “whiten” the country. a whole other story…) and i think it is still heavily influenced by this. i live in between a synagogue and the jewish bakery. anyway, after the bakery run, i made some breakfast – fried potatoes, got dressed in my own clothes (finally!), and was out the door.
mauá is a small town outside of são paulo the city but still within são paulo the state. technically, it is referred to as a municipality with it’s own government and ruling structure. mauá is actually the name given to the area by indigenous peoples to reference it’s hilly land and high altitude (told to me by my host. wikipedia had something a bit different and that’s why you don’t always trust wikipedia).
it took me about one hour by train to arrive to mauá. when i got to the station, beth, was there and i could tell that she was getting a bit worried because i was about 15 minutes late. she had already talked to the security guards and everything. however, she was definitely relieved to see me. after we said our hellos, the activities for the day were in full swing.
beth works for the secretary of education in mauá and the building happens to be located right next to the train station. i just realized i didn’t take any pics of the building. it’s actually an interesting structure. i will see if i can find one on the net.
and boom! gotta love the internet. so we went there to beth’s office where i met her colleagues who were all super nice. her department is responsible for overseeing all of the schools in mauá where each person has about 5 schools that they supervise. it was interesting because there was one team working on revising the laws and standards for the area schools. i got to see them discussing what to change/what to keep and that was pretty cool. this is done every 10 years. how ironic that i was there for the next iteration of that process?
after that, beth introduce me to two supervisors in particular who were accompanying us to the schools that they oversee. i had no idea what was to come. we ended up visiting two schools that were similar in terms of serving young children but embodied very different characteristics.
the brazilian government provides schooling/care for kids 0-5, which was the age group that both of the schools served. guilherme vidotto, the first school, was very new and modern – built less than a year ago. it had about 3 floors, an elevator, a small theater/auditorium, 2 kitchens – one for babies and one for the bigger kids, a large cafeteria, and multiple play spaces inside and out. there were a lot of babies and kids everywhere! the director of the school gave us a grand tour. she was so excited to have me there. i could tell that she loved what she did and that felt really good to be around.
marcia regina abraham was the name of the second school. it was much smaller with one floor, a lower student count, 1 kitchen, 1 outdoor play space and 1 indoor/outdoor play space. nevertheless, the energy was the same. the staff was super engaged and also very nice. i think that this director was a bit more serious but she was also very eager to show me the school and i had a great time there. at the end of the tour, the director invited us into her small and cozy office for drinks and snacks before we left. this is very normal as brazilians are super duper hospitable! and they let you know it. lol
dr. rosangela malachias, my brazilian mentor, introduced me to beth because she thought it would be a great idea to get a glimpse of the school system. although i am interested in higher education, these visits are very connected to what i want to study.
after the school visits, we went to a college entrance exam preparatory course. i wish we could’ve stayed there as long as we were at the other schools but it was getting late and the teachers didn’t have a whole lot of free time. i introduced myself and talked a little bit about my research interests and why i was in brazil. the teachers and the students were awesome! we got into a very quick talk about the quota system, racism, and inequity in brazil. the course is actually a product of affirmative action to assist low income high school kids with prep classes. i’m kicking myself because i didn’t take any pics. we were rushing, however, i do have some video that i may post later. i did post a snippet of it on instagram and twitter if you’re interested. my handle is jem_fly and the video is in portuguese lol.
this was a very long day. it still was not over because next up was dinner. beth took me to her younger sister’s house to eat. we had arroz e feijão (rice and beans) – the staple dinner combo – carne (meat), angu (a corn flour of sorts, brought to brazil by the africans), torresmo (fried pork belly, kinda), batata fritas (french fries) and salada (salad). it was deelish! washed down with fresh oj.
after dinner, i was done. it was a long day. but it still wasn’t over! beth and i had to go to the market to buy things for breakfast AND we had to go back to her office because they were having a mini conference about the education policy updates. the trip to the market was eventful with so many different fruits and items that i had never seen. the juice aisle was da bomb! all kinds of natural fruit juices in one whole aisle! i also learned that you can drink alcohol here at 18. america is so prude! another cool thing that i saw was the little section of items for festa junina which is happening now. it was cool because it was kinda like a showcase of all the typiclal foods/snacks people serve at celebrations for the festa. these include pop corn and a host of sweets (doces) made from peanuts (amendoim). both are things that i like. my favorite has become this snack made by paçoquita (pasokita) a popular brand that makes sweets from peanuts. it’s like a perfected chico stick because its soft. isn’t that the only thing that was slightly wrong with chico sticks?!?
wow so this post is super long to write. i only got through monday. i’ll end here and talk about the other stuff in the next one. até breve. see you soon.