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First Day Brazil

First Day



For São Paolo’s Mariane Rodrigues, the future begins at night school, 

and the day is for working

I changed my school schedule to night … to take care of my little sister, who had no one to look after her in the morning …. 

When I go out, I go to the movies or meet my friends to play video games and talk about the future.”


When we received this first photo (at left) from Mariane Rodrigues, 18, a high school student in Sao Paolo, we thought, “wow — she must be getting up really early to go to school.”

But as we soon found out, it was just the opposite.

During the day, Rodrigues works at a company called Paradoxo, providing remote technical support for online vendors and websites.

That includes Central Leste Noticias, which covers the news in her neighborhood of Itaim Paulista, or “Little Rock From São Paolo.” 

At night, Mariane attends a public high school, as a third-year student who will graduate in December. She lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her mother, her eight-year-old sister, her stepfather, and two dogs.

Percent of Itaim Paulista residents who have graduated from high school. Source: Central Leste Noticias

A lot of us are returning from the July holiday for the first day of school. Not very common; usually, the first week of class is very empty in terms of attendance!

According to Rodrigues, “my daily life is kind of lazy ….

“Every morning I wake up at 8:30 a.m. I shower, tidy up, (and) I will buy bread.”

After dropping off her sister at school, Mariane heads to Paradoxo, where she works until 5 p.m. Then, I come home, I take a shower, wash dishes or fold laundry, and go to school.”

School begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m., with a snack at 9 p.m. Rodrigues returns by 11:30 p.m., takes a shower, then does homework before going to sleep. Some days don’t end until 1 a.m. the next morning.

“I started to have interest in working at age 14,” Rodrigues wrote. “I had a telemarketing experience and I was starting to get interested in having my own money, help pay for things into the house and buy things for my mother and my sister.

“But I changed my school schedule to night when I was not working yet, to take care of my little sister, who had no one to look at it in the morning (she goes to afternoon school). Then we decided, my mother and I, to change my schedule at school.

“When I finish high school, I intend to do college physical education or arts, but right now I’m thinking of doing public service in the army or the fire department, and work while studying.”

Rodrigues took the photos below with her Samsung cellphone, noting that “it’s complicated to leave with the phone to go to school because there is a risk of being robbed on every street.”

See her work below for the story of a place where friends meet, students dream and the first day of school begins, just as it does anywhere else in the world.

Except, at night.

School begins at 7 p.m. We do not sit down to dinner, but we take time for a snack. I catch up with my fellow students.

School ends at 11 p.m. and we leave. Back on the street, we have to pay attention again to the risk of having our mobiles stolen. 

Classes begin with an appreciation for our teachers and lessons on the board. With just a few months to go until graduation in December, everybody wants to get good grades.

Mariane’s day begins around 9 a.m. with a trip to the bakery before heading to work. Holding down a day job is normal for Mariane and her peers; most give 50 percent of their earnings to their parents to support their families.

French bread, fresh from the bakery, is a staple of the Brazilian breakfast. Whoever wakes up first goes to the bakery to buy it. Today and most every week day, it is Mariane.

Back at the apartment, Mariane has a quick breakfast with Isadora, her eight-year-old sister, before dropping her off at school and heading to work at Paradoxo.

Mariane on the job at Paradoxo, where she provides tech support for online websites and vendors. Her work day will end at 5 p.m., but school and homework won’t conclude till midnight or later.

Our thanks to Izabela Moi, journalist and co-founder of Agência Mural, for reporting assistance and translation. This is Mariane’s first story for Global Student Square. Click here for a story by Centre Leste Noticias on Mariane and GSS. 

—the editors

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