76 years old and it’s just the beginning: Sylvette’s story
Get on a bus to Vila Mariana, arrive in class, greet your friends, turn on the computer and start programming.
This could be the daily routine of any young man or woman who is passionate about technology, but who’s been living this routine for the past 3 years is 76 year-old, Sylvette. She’s a former secretary who takes game programming classes twice a week. Her determination and thirst for challenges has a clear source.
At the age of 13, Sylvette was forced to run away from the war in Egypt, along with her family and friends, in search of a country where they could remake their lives. They chose Brazil for a few reasons, but the main one was “the great receptivity” that all immigrants have always talked about. Sylvette soon fell in love with the country that so lovingly welcomed her and today she considers herself 100% Brazilian.
“One of the first memories that I have about Brazil is the image of the port in Rio de Janeiro. We were on a ship and the city was so bright that it looked like pearls. I was so thrilled and still get shivers when I think about it. After we disembarked in Santos, I had my second moment of admiration. I recall being very thirsty, but my parents didn’t have cash. That was when a man who was selling Matte on the street paused, looked at me and smiled, offering me something to drink for free. I was delighted!” she remembers.
After getting settled with her family in São Paulo, Sylvette continued her studies in French and at the age of 18 started attending secretarial classes. She could speak 3 languages, and it didn’t take long for her to get a job as an assistant.
“I really loved my job because it was challenging. Besides, it was with that money that I was able to raise my daughter,” she says, proudly.
Sylvette believes that everything we build in our lives is a great foundation. “Sometimes I feel like this generation is always in a hurry. We need to remember that a pregnancy lasts 9 months, and that’s how life works. We build it little by little. In my story, for example, first I had my job, then my home and then my daughter. Now I’m in this period of my life where I want to find out what I like to do,” she explains.
Since her retirement, 6 years ago, Sylvette has been an ISGAME student, volunteers in a hospital, attends a group called “The older, the wiser”, participates in Lab60+ initiatives and other activities that promote interaction between different generations. “Everyday is a different challenge: a class, a workshop, an unusual place we have to go. And I still go to the gym! I think I have less time today than back to the time when I worked.” she jokes.
Despite her busy routine, Sylvette believes that this exchange of experiences and knowledge is essential to live a good life. “For us, 60 year old people, it’s important to receive this kind of human affection. In my ISGAME class, for example, I get to meet people who are so different from me and I think that’s very enriching. Also, taking care of our minds is very important.” Sylvette heard from our courses at one of the Lab60+ events. What makes her continue going to the classes are the methodology and the instructors.
“I really liked the way they passed on their knowledge to us, with so much kindness. Fábio, founder of the school, makes it very clear that it is not because we’re slower learners that we must be forgotten.” In addition to it, Sylvette noticed a clear improvement in her memory, creativity and also in the way she communicates.
“I recommend the course to everyone, because I think we should care a bit more about our mental health. The truth is that now I feel like I’m starting a new learning cycle and I look forward to what the future has to offer me,” she says.
Sylvette’s story is just one of the many we are pleased to hear in our hallways and classrooms. We want to be part of more and more narratives like this, because we genuinely believe in a society where we can promote the inclusion of 50+ year old men and women in a respectful way.
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