I receive emails daily from readers of this blog. I really appreciate it all! Yes, even the ones that criticize the blog. For they too have their purpose...
This email in particular I wished to share with my readers, (its author OK'd it).
Trying to better understand Brazil, its culture and its citizens is a huge part of my journey. Emails like this help. So without further adieu...
"As I said in my commentary I found your blog on the site expat-blog. I was searching information about Canada (what a coincidence!), I study architecture at university and I’ve read somewhere that in Canada, as in Brazil, there is a huge market of work for people in my area (architecture/engineering). So that’s why I have interest in move for Canada. I was thinking if I should or not send this e-mail to you, but I decided it isn’t a big deal, if I had a blog I’d love to receive some of my readers.
Foremost I’d like to introduce myself, my name is X (18) and I study English for few years (about 3), so be tolerant with my English. I’ve read all your blog since the first post, and some comments of the visitors in the most “polemic” ones, I’m happy because I understood around 70% of everything you wrote. Of course I didn’t agree with every single opinion of yours, but I think you were very fair and exact in the most of the things you said, and that’s something very rare for a foreign – I say this by self experience. I “worked” as a volunteer in an Interchange company called AFS. For me it would be a good way to improve my English skills and make a kind of cultural share, I also hosted a boy from Germany for one year (the worst experience in my whole life). I can say I talked with many kind of people from many countries: Sweden, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Indonesia, Iceland etc. Talk with them about Brazil was a frustrating experience, it was the same stereotyped vision (I’m truly tired of this), I think they weren’t mature enough for an experience like that.
In one of your posts you said something about Brazilians be very negative with their own country, I think it is absolutely true (with some exceptions), I usually say the patriotism of Brazilians is limited to football, for sure it is the only thing Brazil is 100% good in the world. It is very easy understand why Brazilians are very negative with Brazil. We see the problems of Brazil every day on TV: corruption, urban violence, drugs, pollution etc, add to this the fact of really few people say good things about Brazil, so it created a culture of “complaint”, people sit on their chairs in front of the TV, or in bar, hear the problematic news and just shake their heads (the most of times rolling their eyes) and say: “Oh, it just happens in Brazil, in a developed country it would never happens” or worst “This country isn’t a serious country… tsc tsc”, well, in my opinion it is the most typical Brazilian, and it is the type of Brazilians that Brazil doesn’t need. The most of people here ignores the situation of our “neighbors” in South America, mostly of them with a worst situation than Brazil. My uncle works in a oil company, he lived in Angola (also speaks Portuguese) for two months, and he said he looks different for the Brazilian poverty after know the real poverty there, the favelas in Brazil are bad, but I dare to say it is a better situation than the mostly slums in Africa and India, for exemple, here the favelas has a small (but present) structure, with sidewalks, small hospitals, schools, a modest trade, lan houses and also banks (the example in the bank Bradesco in the Heliópolis favela, São Paulo)! While in the other countries they literally lives over their garbage. I can be wrong, but it is how I think.
It’s difficult be proud of Brazil (and it is not my case, I love my country and I know the exact position of Brazil in the world) when the people has the addiction of say bad things about the country, minimizing the good things and maximizing the problems. Many Brazilians has the puerile fantasy that the other countries in the world, specially Europe and North America are just perfect, and the wrong/bad things just happens in Brazil. We know that’s not true, I visited Portugal and I were really impressed with the newspapers, it could be perfectly a Brazilian newspaper, the same things: corruption, violence, poverty etc (in Portugal 18% – data of 2009 – of the population lives in misery, something difficult to understand, Portugal is member of EU). The corruption in Italy is the same or bigger than in Brazil, but nobody knows about it, right? We think Brazil is a very corrupted country (I’m not saying it isn’t true) because the people know it, the newspapers say the “secret” cases all the time, and in my opinion this freedom of expression is one of the positive things in Brazil. Some people say: “Oh, in the government of Lula there was much corruption”, I simply don’t agree, the difference of the Lula’s government and the government of the previous president (Fernando Henrique Cardoso) was because in Lula’s time we knew all the cases, while in the other government many of the news were censured or hidden. Your father said the drivers here are mad, well in Italy is twice worst, and Italy is a developed country.
In beginning I didn’t agree of Rio hosts the Olympic Games in 2016, for the same reasons of all people that were against: favela. Slums are the most shaming thing for me about Brazil, but now I’m 100% into the idea of those games here, and I totally agree with Lula when he said those games could make better the low self-confidence of the Brazilian people and their relationship with the nation. I am very impressed with all the projects for Rio, that goes beyond the stadiums and arenas. The security project let me with my mouth wide open, they will contract a company of NY to project the security system of Rio, this company is the same that made the project of the New Yorker security system in the government of Rudolph Giuliani. I know the current security in NYC isn’t the same of the Canadians cities, but ask any New Yorker and you will know the big difference of this before and after his government. Rio is planning with the help of the federal government the most modern department of public safety that already existed in Brazil. For you have an idea, they will install pickups sound of shots throughout the city. Just a shot sound be captured, the center will be immediately activated and the next cameras will monitor the location of the shot and within minutes a car will come to the site. This system exists only in Israel and in U.S. (If I’m not wrong). It is just about the security, the public transport (don’t forget the high speed train) and many other things will be improved.
When Rio de Janeiro won the games many television reporters of many countries arrived in the city to make a “special” about it, and the biggest example was given by an Australian television, they came here and just showed the worst side of Rio, the most deprived areas. OK, it will help a lot Rio with tourism. When I knew it, I were very sad, because as a writer said “being Brazilian is an ache”, this ache begins without much fanfare, partly in the belly, partly through the stomach. Then it goes and settles in the left breast. So It’s how the pain of being Brazilian looks like. Give up of Brazil is easy, but the pain of being Brazilian that’s more complicated. I just hope this e-mail don’t look very tireful for you, I liked very much your blog and how you write, and it is good to know your baby is partly Brazilian! But I want to say, before you move from Brazil, you need to travel to the historical cities in the state of Minas Gerais, such as Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, São João Del-Rey, Diamantina, etc."
I replied to my reader and asked him what he thought would help his country. Here is what he had to say:
"Well, I don't think there is a thing that can help, Brazil is in the right way to development now, if you read more about PAC you will find out, it is a program to improve many areas: health, education, security etc, it is like a list of goals, and some of those goals are already being made. This year it will be the presidential elections, an important step for the future in this moment we are living."