Brazilian pursuing architecture dream at age 92

By Nayara Batschke

Sao Paulo, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- Brazilian designer Carlos Augusto Manço was born two decades before the arrival of television in Brazil. Now aged 92, he has learned to use a computer, is taking courses online and remains determined to earn an architecture degree despite the pandemic.

After serving in the army and working for more than 35 years as a project designer at a hospital in Ribeirao Preto, a city in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo, Manço was inspired by his grandchildren to enroll in a university course in architecture and urban planning upon turning 90 in 2018.

“I always wanted to have a university diploma, so I figured I’d take the plunge. I decided to give it a try; my grandson did the same course, and I said, ‘I’m going to do it too,'” the nonagenarian, who had had to put that dream on hold for decades because of his family’s humble circumstances, told Efe.

Manço had completed around half of his degree program and overcome different challenges when his university was forced to switch to a distance learning model due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, which has claimed more than 106,000 lives thus far in Brazil.

Despite his difficulty hearing and typing and lack of familiarity with computers and other technological devices, Manço has not become discouraged and instead continually reinvented himself with an eye toward achieving his dream.

Manço, who has two children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, acknowledged that the amount of work assigned by his professors can be overwhelming at times but that his will to study is “even greater.”

“I spend almost half the day on the course exercises alone,” he said.

A native and resident of Ribeirao Preto, the future architect has temporarily left his hometown behind and is spending the quarantine with his family in the bucolic Canastra Mountains of the neighboring state of Minas Gerais.

But Manço is not letting the gorgeous scenery distract him and is sticking to the same strict routine that served him well during in-person classes and earned him a reputation as a model student.

During the quarantine, his granddaughter Isabella helps him use technology, access programs and plan his schedule.

“We look at the class schedules and organize the calendar together. I’ve been showing him little by little how to use, access the virtual classrooms, and sometimes I leave him some pork chops,” Isabella said.

But Manço said that when he needs to study a specific subject more in-depth he resorts to books and traditional study methods.

“I’m especially concerned about reading, studying and deepening my knowledge of the subjects that will be important in my future profession as an architect,” he said. It is “a bit of a tedious, tiring routine because it takes you the whole day.”

While Manço insists he has fully adapted to his virtual learning environment, he also said he longs for life on campus.

“I miss meeting up with colleagues, professors, going to the university. And also staying around to do the assignments and technical visits,” he added.

Once normal life resumes the nonagenarian plans to do some internships and devote himself to building and hospital project planning, which has been a dream of his for decades and now seems well within reach.

In a lifetime spanning more than nine decades, Manço has lived through World War II, the Cold War, countless financial crises and now the worst pandemic in a century.

Those experiences allow him to keep recent events in perspective.

“You have to keep your mind active and remember that this too shall pass,” he said. EFE-EPA

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