Manuel Fontes (17)
Interview conducted in Velas, São Miguel Island, Azores
Manuel had offered to translate any feedback of my interview with Christina, the very talented hair dresser in the charming city of Velas. After compiling notes from my interview with Christina, I asked questions of Manuel as his hair was being cut. About half way through my questions a woman walked in who seemed to be listening to the questions. She seemed proud of his English skills, answers and I correctly surmised she was his mother. Families seem close here and he did not seem the least but embarrassed to be spending time around his mother. Interaction of extended families are a part of everyday life. There are only 9000 people on São Jorge, but even on the bigger, more populated island the importance of family was obvious. Manuel’s words follow.
What is your favorite part of living on São Jorge?
I used to live on the mainland but I moved here 9 years ago. I like the sea and the views. It is very calm. The school here is very good. My favorite subjects are chemistry and biology.
What is your least favorite part of living in São Jorge?
There is nothing I do not like.
Do you see the changes in the natural world where you live?
Yes. It is much hotter than when I was younger. The sea seems more salty, does that make sense? Winters are much warmer. During winter it used to rain all the time. It is winter now and it is still sunny.
Can you give me an example of something you are doing to reduce your impact on the planet?
I am not sure. Not really to be honest. I have never thought of that.
Is there anything you would like to ask or tell me?
People are really concerned about pollution here. A lot of plastic washes up in our rocks. We have started sorting our garbage. Plastic and metal, paper and cardboard, glass and miscellaneous trash. Now that I think of it this is one this I do to help. I also decline paper receipts since it is a waste of paper.
On the island we are great at fishing and export the extra to other islands. People also farm and have cows. We use them to help feed ourselves.
Getting young people to think about making the planet a better place is one key to change. Throughout history they have been the drivers of social change. I know I did not realize this as a young man. I could see during this interview he began thinking about his role in the world. We talked a bit about chemistry and biology, two subjects dear to my heart and my career for many years. Science has been good to me I told him. I also let him I hoped to get classrooms involved in this project. Again he seemed curious. I am guessing Manuel will make a great scientist.