Welcome…

June 6, 2009

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A Break for Now

July 13, 2011

Hello dear readers,

This blog has been going for almost two years. We have enjoyed being able to discuss things that are close to our heart with you, people on the Britain Brasil Bridge. But, we are going to take a break. Dave has been accepted to train as a vicar from September and, while we get used to the new life, we have decided to put a few things on hold.

Thank you so much for reading, contributing, commenting, being in touch and opening our eyes to the bridge that is being built!

Dave and Rachel Maclure

We leave you with an invitation:

Research on Brazilians in London

June 13, 2011

Do you like statistics? I do!

Quite a while back, we made a claim on this blog that we felt that despite the incredible numbers of Brazilians in the UK, it was difficult to get hard, intelligible data about their presence here. British people on the other hand, have written widely about their experience in Brazil, and we wondered when that balance would be addressed.

Well, it has now. At least in terms of Brazilians living in London, which we realise is not the whole picture, but it is a start. The Brazilian Migration to the UK Research Group has published a 31-page document with chapters including ‘Why Come to London?’, ‘Working in London’, ‘Plans for the future’, all drawn from a recent (2010) survey they undertook.

I am so excited I am telling you about it even before I read it. You can find it here.

What is a Gincana? And how can I participate?

June 8, 2011

The Childhood Mission ‘My Little Jesus’ presents the 1st Games of the Portuguese Language World

On the 22nd May, the group ‘My Little Jesus’ from the community of St Annes in Whitechapel, brought together hundreds of children and adults for the 1st Cultural and Religious Gincana (Games) of the Portuguese Language World. The theme chosen by the organisers was: ‘Integration among Roots’. The main aim was to celebrate cultural diversity and promote integration among people who live in London but whose first language is Portuguese in their country of origin.

During the event, six mix-aged groups competed in the traditional games of sac race, egg and spoon race and the ‘dance of the orange’ (Brazilian game pictured above). The climax of the competition was when the groups demonstrated their cultural knowledge of countries like Brazil, Portugal, Angola, and others, and the need for greater integration among its peoples. To demonstrate this, each group used theatrical skits, music and even folkloric costumes made of recycled material. There was a lot of laughter, applause and some presentations even evoked an emotional response from the audience.

For Keith Reis, one of the coordenators of the event, the Games were a big success because it fostered the spirit of friendship and fellowship which were being promoted. ‘This only happened because of the behaviour of all who came, and primarily, of the teams who played cheerfully and honestly demonstrating a true understanding of the purpose and the aims of the Games.’ The winning team of this first ever Games was ‘Feijao com Bacalhau’ (Beans with Cod). ‘Tropa de Elite’ and ‘Lusomania’ came second and third respectively.

The group ‘My Little Jesus’ is formed only of volunteers and meets every saturday from 2pm in the community of St Annes, on Underwood Rd in Whitechapel, offering physical, cultural and religious activities, including the teaching of Portuguese. For more information, please contact meupqnojesus@hotmail.co.uk or visit our blog: http://www.meupqnojesus.blogspot.com.

Blog Post Written by Thiago Tonussi

RIO – The Movie

May 30, 2011

When filmmakers try to create movies for children based in Brazil (or anywhere in the global south), they walk a precarious tight-rope. If you run with the stereotypes of Brazil’s poverty, ecological exploitation or crime you risk offending and alienating the host population and reinforcing unhelpful perspectives in the global north. If you stick to the “positive” stereotypes of samba, football, bbq and beach you make it seem that Brazil has nothing else to offer. Equally, if you avoid all stereotypes you aren’t left with anything to hang your coat on and the version of Brazil depicted on screen is so sterile that it bears no resemblance to reality.

Fortunately, in the recent animated film Rio, the filmmakers have successfully negotiated the tight-rope. It helps that the Director Carlos Saldanha is a Brazilian himself. Brazilians (like Brits for that matter!) can accept criticism if it comes from within and isn’t levelled from overseas. Saldanha doesn’t shirk the nasty realities of life in Brazil – the film opens with the illegal capture of tropical birds in Brazil for a Western market and the plot incorporates a young homeless orphan living in a favela. At other times, Saldanha uses humorous plot devices to make his point – clueless tourists are robbed of their money and jewellery but the criminals in this instance are monkeys, not gangs or pickpockets. A samba girl on Copacabana beach turns out to be a dentist. At times, Saldanha subtly turns the tables on stereotypes. Tulio (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro) is the most educated person in the film – and he’s a Brazilian. Equally, his American counterpart, small-town girl Linda seems somewhat uneducated and uninformed about the tropical bird in her care.

So what about the film itself? The animated adventure is highly entertaining and my wife, a Brazilian, was crying with laughter in parts. Having been to Rio briefly, it was a lot of fun to see the city animated so beautifully and, at times, tenderly. Besides the Brazilian connection, Rio has a sharp script and glowing characters, particularly among the birds. The film is a credit to Brazil and another example of how this country’s stock continues to rise in the world.

Now, to see what Pixar do with their Brazilian character Carla Veloso in the upcoming Cars 2!

Have you seen a film with scenes set on location in Brazil – for example, Hulk or Fast and Furious: Rio Heist? What did you think of how Brazil was portrayed?

Flights to Brazil

May 23, 2011

I just read on the Brazilian Briefing sent out by the Brazilian Embassy in London that TAM and BA are doubling the number of flights to Rio from London. Good news! Or is it good news?

I am from the northeast so I am not so sure this is very good news for me. The flights that take me past my hometown Recife down to the south of Brasil are useful but they invariably mean more connection to re-route me back North. But, it is good news that Iberia have just started flights to the Northeast of Brazil, via Spain. This is the only competitor to TAP who fly via Portugal.

With the long summer holidays soon approaching, I’m sure many of us are thinking about/planning a possible trip ‘home’. Finding cheap flights to Brazil from London is no easy feat. Here is a checklist of what you need to remember:

1- Brasil is a big country so before being attracted by a low price, make sure it takes you near where you want to go.

2- Dates are very important. I am having to fly one week before the end of the summer term* to ensure I get a good deal. Christmas seems to be the most expensive time. No doubt, all those Brazilians and their spouses wanting to get away from the cold weather!

3- Look well in advance of the date you want to travel. Friends say one year ahead is a good measure to go by.

4 – Look for new flight routes as often they have promotional deals to promote the flights.

5- There are many travel agents that specialise in flights to Brasil. It might be worth booking the old fashioned way (ie. not internet) since you can negotiate the forms of payment. Often, you can leave a deposit, then closer to the date of travel pay the outstanding amount, which can soften the blow for families travelling. Leros magazine is a good place to pick these out.

*NB. If you are planning on taking your child early from school for a trip, you need to seek permission from the headteacher, otherwise, they might knock on your door wanting to know your whereabouts!

Mother’s Day Curios

May 11, 2011

One of the joys of having your life lived between two countries is that you can celebrate an important date twice. Mother’s Day is an example. In Brazil, we’ve just had it – it’s always the second Sunday of May. In the UK this year is was the 3rd of April, but the date can fluctuate. Why the difference?

In the UK, the date is linked to Easter. In fact, you know when you have reached the middle of Lent when Mothering Sunday is celebrated. In years gone by, people were allowed to indulge in the delicacies given up for Lent only on this day. And, people were encouraged to visit the ‘Mother Church’ of their area, often the place where they had been baptised. I guess for many today the religious aspect of Mother’s Day is eclipsed by pampering of our earthly mothers – which, can I say, is no bad thing in itself!

In Brazil, the history of Mother’s Day can be traced back to an American lady in the early 1900s who started a writing campaign to try and influence politicians to mark a date in the calendar for people to show their appreciation for their mothers. There was even a Mother’s Day International Association created ‘with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations of Mother’s Day.’ And why not? (Read more here.)

In churches in the UK, it is often noted that Mother’s Days can be a sad occasion for some people. You can imagine the reasons – for some the pain of absent mothers, absent children or memories of an unhappy childhood are too much to bear. In Brazil, as you might expect, this possibility is overlooked for the most part. I noticed on Facebook that almost all my Brazilian friends made some special remark about their mother on the day, whereas when the date was celebrated in the UK, few made reference to it online. Having reflected a bit on this, I wondered whether it is fair to say that Brazilian society is much more matriarchal. That is, mothers play a pivotal role in making society work, and everyone knows it! This includes the mothers themselves who can often be quite vocal about their expectations for mother’s day, especially if they are not always met! It seems like the sacrifices they make have to be recorded and compensated for at least once a year. Take my great-grandmother for example. She has seen 5 generations in her lifetime and has played a crucial role in raising 4. Last Sunday, she was sat outside her room waiting patiently for her only son (who is a grandfather himself) ‘to bring her a present with a big bow on it’ (in her own words). I suppose if you have mothered as many people as she has, this is the least you can expect!

A Brazilian Perspective on the Royal Wedding

May 3, 2011

It is a privilege to live in London. I often think that but last Friday I had an opportunity to really savour what that means.

As you probably know, Prince William , the second in line to the British throne, got married to Catherine Middleton, a commoner, at Westminster Abbey while a third of the world watched. Since their engagement at the end of last year, excitement has been steadily growing in the UK at the prospect of this occasion. Was it because of a public holiday for the nation, or because we would be allowed a peep into the otherwise private and secluded lives of the royal family, or was it because we all just love a real-life fairy tale with the possibility of a ‘happily ever after’?  In any case, as the day drew closer, it was hard to talk about anything else.

The funny thing is, as I talked to my British friends at the school gates in the suburb of London, I was surprised to hear they were all planning a quiet day, opting to meet up with neighbours and watch the wedding on television rather than brave a trip to town and watch it with the crowds. I understand that it is tradition in England to organise street parties (you can find out more here) when there is a royal occasion, but I thought this was more for people who lived outside London and didn’t have easy access to the ‘real thing’. For me, there was no doubt about it. I would try, with my two children, to get as close as possible to the action!

Why did I feel so strongly about this? Well, I know lots of people who would love to be in my shoes and I felt like I would be enjoying the day for me and for them. If I had been abroad, I would have certainly wished I was in London. Also, in Brazil, every 4 years we experience the joy of patriotism through the World Cup and now that I am British I wanted to live out my Britishness alongside strangers who shared my nationality. And, it seems, the British need a good Royal knees-up to unleash their inner patriotism.

So, off I went, very early in the morning with some American friends to Hyde Park Corner. I knew that attempting the procession route would be difficult so we settled for just being with a crowd, watching on the Big Screen provided by the Mayor of London. The whole event was very well organised. Litter pickers everywhere, porta-loos a-plenty, stewards, police, military, all poised and ready to help with directions and hinder any problems.  And, what I found most impressive was that they had set a limit on the number of people allowed into every area and once that was reached, they closed the area off. We ended up on a Big Screen in Green Park and after about 30 mins of our arrival, the gates were shut. The crowd was also impeccably behaved. Once everyone found their green patch, they stayed put. No unruly shouting or big noises. It was a family day, of the best sort! Not the way Brazilians would behave, but after all, this was a truly British affair.

In the afternoon, we invited some friends around for a tea party and ended up with 6 different nationalities, all celebrating the Happy British Couple. Like I said, living in London is a privilege.

PORTUGUESE TEST!

March 29, 2011

Nope, this is not an attempt to send shivers down your spine. Its just a little idea of how to brush up on your Portuguese grammar in a fun and helpful way.

Hosted by a Brazilian magazine about education in Brazil (Crescer), this link has brilliant games, each with various levels of difficulty so that you can learn the nuances of the Portuguese language – of which there are many! It is aimed at children, but I remember when my husband was studying for his CELPE-BRAS test, he only had old textbooks to go on. This would have been a welcome change for him.

In addition, I have also found this site invaluable in inspiring me to initiate my son into Portuguese literacy. He is almost completely literate in English, so I will take the experts advice and wait for him to be totally confident, then introduce him to the literacy page on this site.

Let me know if any of you have used this site for other things. It seems very helpful!

Call for Volunteers!

March 14, 2011

I guess if you can’t understand what is written on the flyer, you might not be able to help out,  but you might like to know that ABRIR, a charity that works to help with Brazilian education in Britain, is looking for volunteers. They are going to hold a meeting on the 1st of April to discuss this further. If you are interested to find out more, email info@abrir.org.uk.

What do Pancake Day and Carnival have in common?

March 8, 2011

Today is Shrove Tuesday in the UK. The supermarkets here are offering various discounts on Pancake mixtures, toppings, oil and sugar in an attempt to encourage us to eat as many pancakes as we can possibly consume.

Meanwhile, those living in Brazil will no doubt have been enjoying the holiday season of Carnival, which is coming to an end tomorrow. Not everyone will have hit the streets for the samba parades but the country as a whole does shift gear – people hit the beach, enjoy music (sound mobiles?), have a quiet retreat or sleep.

Is it just a coincidence that these two events are celebrated simultaneously? Actually, NO! They are both festivities that precede a period when, in a traditional liturgical calender, you deprive yourself of certain habits to focus your mind on turning back to God in the run up to Easter (Lent). The idea of both occasions is to have a final splurge before this period of fasting, which lasts 40 days.

Having witnessed the way each country celebrate the last day before Lent, I think I can argue that Brazil has one up on the UK on this one. Yes, the Brazilian carnival has a reputation, but for good or for ill, it is such an outlandish time, that no one in the country can escape the reminder that Lent is about to start and, indeed, that we ALL (individual and society) need forgiveness. In contrast, apart from the supermarket deals, society at large functions normally in the UK so I find myself unprepared for Lent, which starts tomorrow. I wonder whether one evening will be enough for me to think of something to add or to subtract from my daily life that will remind me of my never-ending need for Easter.