In the beginning of December, I wrote about why and how I taught myself Portuguese. The reason I wrote about the subject is that of all the questions I usually get asked, it ranks in the top three. The other two are “Why do you like Brazil?” and…well, it’s not exactly a question, per se, but it should be. The third thing I get asked indirectly, and by Brazilians themselves, is “What is special about us?” Such a question (if a Brazilian were to ask me directly) usually requires that I answer the second question on why I like Brazil, which, by the way, would take several pages to answer thoroughly.
What I find special and interesting about Brazilians is the very fact that they carry within them the culture they grew up in, be that a mate-drinking gaucho cowboy from the south, a ‘numsei’ Japanese-Brazilian from São Paulo or the Cearenses long ago settled in the Amazon basin.
I’d argue that even if a person doesn’t take a strong liking to their enviorns, they have almost no means of fighting the varied linguistic or cultural influences of their upbringing. So, why do I like Brazilians? Why do I think there’s something special about them? They knowingly or unknowningly have the ability to make the words in the articles, the research and the history books I’ve read come alive. All it takes is the turn of a phrase.
Highly recommended: O Povo Brasileiro (with subtitles)
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Just to clarify a tiny bit on a few things. The point I make is specific yet general. It is specific in the sense that I find Brazilian culture to be very unique, though it is general because I think pretty much any group (nationality) would probably ask a similar question of an outsider who studies them. Growing up in the US, I have quite a hard time seeing my own culture from an outside view, thus I’m sure Brazilians might confront the same issue with their own culture. One little example is that I really love PF (prato feito…in most cases, beans, rice, chicken and a little salad) and I swear I’d love to eat it every single day (Brazilians are thinking, "hein? PF? coisa tão normal, ué!).
The unfortunate mistake is that those not in tune with Brazilian culture would assume that the meaning of a statement, like "Brazilians carry within them the culture they grew up in", reflects only samba, carnival and soccer…when the truth is, it reflects thousands of nuances.