Bom dia! My name is Liam and I’m doing my IEDP internship at UNESCO in Brasília, Brazil. I just finished my first week at the office, and I’ve been in Brazil for almost two weeks. Quite a bit has happened, so I’m going to divide it up into a few posts (and not necessarily go in order).
First, internship: I’m working for the director of the education sector at UNESCO Brazil. When I got to the office last Monday, my first stop was HR, where I spent about two hours filling out forms and learning about HR stuff. I also received my own collapsible silicone cup (the office doesn’t have any disposable cups, which makes me very happy). Then, one of the women I had been speaking to introduced me to a few departments and people around the office.
Finally, I got dropped off with my boss. She and I chatted about upcoming events and projects and how I could potentially make myself useful. The first week though, she said, I could spend reading different background documents she would give me as well as completing the safety and ethics trainings that all UN personnel have to do. Then I was shown to my desk, which is in an office with two other people, and given a stack of books. Reading was the perfect activity for me while I waited for computer and email access, which came sporadically throughout the day.
During the week, I continued with reading, but I was also given two tasks of a more substantial nature. My boss asked me to look up educational and demographic data for a particular municipality in Brazil. A colleague showed me the official websites where I could access the data I needed. I added to my own to-do list: learn Portuguese keyboard shortcuts for Office. I could change the operating system on my computer to English, but where’s the fun in that?
My colleague and I were also tasked with helping to organize a webinar in collaboration with a Brazilian journalistic association and someone from the UNESCO office in Santiago de Chile. Throughout the week we met with our own communications department, and I drafted a few emails in Spanish to Chile.
Friday proved to be an exciting end to an exciting week. The whole education team got together for a meeting with a visitor from UNESCO headquarters. My Brazilian colleagues presented recent projects, including on topics such as inclusion, indigenous education, early childhood education (ECE), and refugee issues. Afterward, our visitor from HQ presented on current trends in as well as the future of ECE. I learned so much during this meeting alone that I might have to write an entire blog post to it.
When is all this stuff happening? The regular work day starts at 8:30 am and ends at 6:00 pm. Virtually everyone takes their lunch break between 12:30 and 2:00 pm. There are a good number of food tents, food trucks and small restaurants in the area, and I’ve already sampled a few. Buffet style is common all over Brazil, especially around lunch time. Some places make you weigh your plate, while others have a set price. My boss took me to one of the nearby restaurants on the first day, but I think I like the simple food tents better. I can pile up my plate for R$12.00 or $3.00!
Now I’ve talked about work, but how do I get there? I usually take the bus in the morning, which is pretty easy. The only tricky part is that I do have to play a little bit of ‘frogger’ to get to the bus stop (more on the layout of Brasília later). Sometimes the bus is a bit crowded, but it’s super quick. I live 6 km (3.7 mi) from the office, and the ride to work only takes about 10 minutes. My commute home, however, has been a bit different so far. On several evenings this past week, I attended events at the European cultural institutes in Brasília, after which I usually Uber home.
On Friday, I actually walked home because it was still early. Work stops at 2:00 pm on Friday—every Friday—which is amazing. I’ll leave it at that for my first week of Work. Stay tuned for Home as well as some insights into the application process and fun stuff to do in Brasília.