Feature: Favelas-born Brazilian boy changes fate in education, cultural exchanges with China

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 20, 2021
Adjust font size:

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 19 (Xinhua) -- "Hi, dude! Welcome to my video!" Every Tuesday, Lucas Mesquita Teixeira greets his followers on YouTube, where he has launched a channel teaching Mandarin since June last year.

Still a student in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 21-year-old Lucas has learned Mandarin for six years. From a learner to a teacher, he is proud of his experience in learning Mandarin as an adult, and deep in heart he dreams bigger than becoming a popular language teacher on YouTube.

"Chinese language and culture changed my life, and I hope Brazilian kids like me who spend their childhood in poverty can change their destinies through learning Chinese," he told Xinhua.


Born in San Goncalo, one of the most impoverished areas in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Lucas spent his childhood in an area consists of a large number of favelas characterized by very simple construction standards and poverty.

Trapped in the reality of high unemployment and lack of public services in sanitary, healthcare and education, little Lucas' neighborhood has crashed many children and young people's prospects for a better future.

"Not all people in Rio live along the coast, and enjoy beaches and sunshine. There are many places like where I grew up," Lucas said.

"I had believed that I would spend my life like my parents and neighbors until the end of my secondary school, because it was impossible for kids in families like mine to go to pricy private schools, but only private school graduates can enter into good universities," he said.

An unexpected chance came in February 2015, as the Confucius Institute of Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro helped the reopening of an obsolete public high school, which from then on started to offer a bilingual curriculum in Portuguese and Mandarin to local students.

"I knew nothing about the Chinese language before," Lucas said, recalling his enrollment at the Joaquim Gomes de Sousa Brazil-China Intercultural School when he was 15 years old.

The school, which is located in the city of Niteroi, about eight miles away from Rio city, was a surprise to Lucas with full-day classes on workdays and devoted teachers that were really helpful.

The intercultural school became the first high school in Brazil which provides students with a standard high school education as well as lessons in Chinese language and culture such as calligraphy, traditional musical instruments and paper cutting.

Lucas said that studying there had not only made it possible for him to enter a university but also nurtured his love for Chinese culture.


After one year's study, the high school offered another gift to local students -- a football summer camp enabling them to visit China. Luckily, Lucas was among the chosen ones.

During his 15-day trip to China in 2016, he played football with Chinese students, learned Mandarin in Hebei University and visited many places in and around Hebei, a northern Chinese province.

"I went to Beijing, visited the Forbidden City, the Olympic Village and climbed the Great Wall, which was so impressing," Lucas said that he had never visited areas outside the state of Rio de Janeiro before.

So inspired by his first trip to China, the Brazilian boy determined to learn more about the Asian country and his diligent work was paid back.

In 2017, he succeeded in entering the Department of Business Administration in the State University of Rio de Janeiro. A dozen of his schoolmates made their entrance into universities in the same year.

Since then the school had gained a good fame and gradually made it one of the most competitive public high school in the state.

For Lucas, learning Chinese has become an indispensible part of his life despite university curriculums. In 2018, he won a scholarship offered by the Chinese Center for Language Education and Cooperation, and got a chance to study for one year in Hebei Normal University.

That gap year in China further improved his Chinese language and his understanding of the ancient country.

"I saw new development since 2016. I was surprised by the technology and modernization level, and specially amazed by the combination of modern cities and ancient temples," he said.


After returning to Brazil, Lucas started to offer free Mandarin classes to schoolmates, and expects to further his study in China. He dreams to visit more Chinese cities and become a more qualified Chinese teacher.

He updates Chinese teaching video once a week on YouTube, where he has gained nearly 30,000 followers. Besides, he uploads information about Chinese songs, culture and Brazilian football players in China.

"Since the COVID-19 broke out, I saw fake news about China on social media, some are unfriendly, so people unfamiliar with China tend to have wrong impression (about China). But I have lived there, I hope to share my experience with Brazilians and tell them a real China," Lucas said.

Noting the increasing Brazil-China cooperation in recent years, Lucas said China created many job opportunities for Brazilian people and he expects to share these positive changes with compatriots.

"In my hometown San Goncalo, many people have no chance to see the world outside, but China gave me a chance to study, to take my first air travel and to know places beyond Brazil. I even earned money via an internship in a Chinese company located in Brazil," he said.

On his YouTube channel "Lucas Mandarin," he likes to share with viewers his experience not only of language learning and preparing for exams but also what he heard and saw in China.

"If I hadn't learned Chinese, I might still live in San Goncalo," he said. Enditem

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter