Culture Shock—Coming to America

Posted in Brazilian Culture, Memoir Writing at 03:21 pm by admin

I was at a discussion group a few days ago, and one of the participants said: “Poor people of the world are suffering, their lives are miserable, and we must do all we can to help them find happiness.” I spent a lot of time thinking about this and I am perplexed and disturbed by this typical American point of view. Here is my opinion:

I disagree that all poor people are “suffering and miserable.”  Yes, I am sure all poor people would love to have their situations improved, but I promise you that an improved situation does not automatically bring “happiness.”

In my book, Divine Betrayal, which is based on my missionary childhood in Brazil, I describe what it is like to be poor. Although we lived in a modest, comfortable house, my parents were poor missionaries, and we never had much in the way of earthly goods. All my friends were very poor as well; their parents only had money for the necessities of life. My best friend’s house, across the street, had two rooms, a kitchen and a living room that also served as the bedroom; they used an outhouse for the bathroom. Their kitchen had a dirt floor, while the living room/bedroom had a wooden floor. They ate fish, beans, rice, manioc flour, tomatoes, and the fruit they could pick from wild trees. My friend had only one dress her mother had sewn to be worn at church and for special occasions, and she had two everyday outfits.

None of my friends wore regular shoes, they had tamancos, (a wooden soul, with a leather strap across the top). Most clothing was passed down from older siblings or cousins.  Even so, we never made fun of each other or yearned for nicer clothing.  We were content just being kids.

Through we didn’t have radios, TV’s, books, or store-bought toys, we never lacked for entertainment. We played hopscotch, jump rope, hide and seek, had cookouts, spent our time telling stories, catching crabs, swimming, etc…. There was no time to be bored. Our lives were not poor, but indeed they were very rich.

Brazilians are very demonstrative. When speaking in Portuguese, our hands and arms are constantly moving, and it is impossible to speak in this manner without experiencing emotions. As children and teenagers, we laughed a lot, and we cried a lot. We were never afraid to let others know how we felt about something.

The truth is, I only felt deprived when I was away from this emotional way of living, away from Brazil, away from Coqueiros and away from my “poor” neighborhood.

I have very vivid memories of returning to America, at eleven and again at age eighteen. I was lonesome for my Brazilian friends and I felt a deep void. What’s worse is, in spite of my sadness, I was expected to hide this emotion. I can best explain it as cultural shock, because in America, it was expected that I not show my emotions.

English was not my first language. I dressed differently and I spoke with an accent. I was teased about my accent and my dress. It was painful to be teased by other kids. I spent most of my time alone. I missed the richness of being so close to the basics of life, the everyday tragedy of death and the sadness for those who were very ill and near death. And I missed the joy of holidays, weddings, church services, friendships, the birth of a child, etc…

It seemed that life back there, in that poor place, was richer, more alive and more real. In America, I felt this sadness, this void for more than a year until I adjusted to the American culture and all its abundance and earthly comforts. I learned from my “impoverished childhood” that money, comfort, and wealth do not bring happiness.

So, I reject the idea that “poor people’s lives are miserable and we Americans can help them find happiness.” Nonsense! My experience screams to me, “happiness does not come from material abundance and cool emotions. Happiness comes from living a rich, emotional life, and fully experiencing life’s joys and sorrows.”

60 Responses to “Culture Shock—Coming to America”

  1. Annice Grippe Says:

    Hello I read some of your site which I found absolutely by mistake while doing a bit of online research for one of my projects. Please write lots more as it is rare that somebody has something appealing to say about this. I will be watching for more!

  2. dieta kopenhadzka Says:

    Just want to tell you that your website content is interesting, but you must improve site graphics

  3. cute baby clothes Says:

    I really enjoy your site, thanks for posting!

  4. p90x dvd Says:

    I really appriciate your site, thanks for sharing.

  5. Alden Heier Says:

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

  6. Rebecca from onlinecasino Says:

    I was acutely in seventh heaven to turn up this site.I wanted to hold responsible you for this distinguished interpret!! I indubitably enjoying every bantam speck of it and I bear you bookmarked to thwart revealed novel stuff you post.

  7. Yoko Mandoza Says:

    You make your points clearly yet I still am not sure yet.

  8. best online casinos Says:

    Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!

  9. play at casino online Says:

    I admit, I must not been on this webpage in a sustained time… in any case it was another contentment to see It is such an important topic and ignored close so multitudinous, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more au courant of possible issues.

  10. where to find best online casinos ? Says:

    That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

  11. ray ban sunglasses Says:

    Wow so nice! I like this site.Keep it working every day :)

  12. ray ban sunglasses Says:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it, Good job My friend ;)

  13. Casio watch Says:

    I Found your site on delicious today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later:)

  14. Ben Relles Says:

    I admit, I have not been on this webpage in a long time… however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues.

  15. online casino games Says:

    I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  16. satellite dish tripod Says:

    Great information. Wish I could get more knowledge like this by others! Many thanks!

  17. Lizzy Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this excellent info! Looking forward to checking out more posts!

  18. Piccinich Says:

    I wanted in order to thank you for this excellent read!! I surely enjoying every small amount of it We have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you publish

  19. Quinn Berlandy Says:

    I love the style and design of the blog. I had a peek at your source code, hope you don’t mind, to see what theme you are using. Is it it a free theme or do I have to buy it?

  20. Sumaran Says:

    thanks for help! I will try.

  21. Sid Benbow Says:

    I really enjoyed the post, I’ll be back!

  22. Jashua Says:

    Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

  23. Hechinger Says:

    A very helpful I’ll blog this Share

  24. Kothe Says:

    A very helpful article, Google is increasingly important in daily life.

  25. Alveo Says:

    I’ve been visiting your blog for a while now and I always find a gem in your new posts. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Engel Says:

    I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

  27. Garmin Says:

    Greetings, I’m a college student and I’m learning a great deal about writing by reading blogs. I really love your style of writing. It’s simple to understand but with excellent details. Your vocabulary makes it enjoyable to read and understand. That’s a big portion of writing. Your viewers have to be able to understand what you’re conveying to them and the publication has to be engaging. You need to challenge your readers, so they will come back for more. You do a great job with all of these aspects. Thx!

  28. Lamont Gamma Says:

    I would like to thank you for the endeavors you have made in publishing this article. I am trusting the same best work from you in the future as well

  29. Backlinks Says:

    Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

  30. Reiff Says:

    Very Interesting Blog! Thank You For Thi Post!

  31. Fenbert Says:

    Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

  32. Norene Sliter Says:

    Fabulous This really is one of the most informative web sites I’ve ever read on this subject.

  33. Gema Rineer Says:

    This well written article encouraged me very much! Saved your website, extremely excellent topics just about everywhere that I read here! I really appreciate the information, thanks.

  34. Madeline Says:

    Seriously, beautiful blogpost. Where is the website’s RSS feed?

  35. Sadfsa Says:

    this is really a great post.. very informative

  36. Hans Vascocu Says:

    Excellent post… I observed this through google, google ftw!

  37. Badamo Says:

    I think this is very important. Thanks a lot.

  38. Bines Says:

    Funny I was discussing with a friend about this just the other day, we must share the same views. I hope it’s ok I added your site to a few of my bookmark lists?

  39. Wolfrum Says:

    Excellent indeed. I have been looking for this information.

  40. Simas Says:

    Good opinion. How did you came up like this?

  41. Mahmoud Says:

    Appreciate your inforamtion. It is just too greeeeat!

  42. Martell Says:

    Great Post!! Thank you very much!

  43. Dumpe Says:

    I am very interested in. May I ask to spoon feed the detail please?

  44. stepnoski Says:

    Great Post!! Thank you very much!

  45. Latisha Pickles Says:

    I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

  46. Brockmann Says:

    Appreciate your inforamtion. It is just too greeeeat!

  47. Grode Says:

    Nice idea, please explain more!

  48. Harrah Says:

    I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

  49. Riggsbee Says:

    Glad to find this information. I have been searching in Google for long time.

  50. Goldermann Says:

    Nice idea, please explain more!

  51. Margan Says:

    excellent column I am honered to have reding

  52. Hanselman Says:

    Great Post!! Thank you very much!

  53. Argentina Traux Says:

    Hi, my sister recommended this blog. I like what I see so far, but I will have to check back a few more times before I put it in my daily bloglist.

  54. Jamir Says:

    very informative article. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  55. Summers Says:

    Hey, thanks for the great article. Honestly, about five months ago I started using the internet and there is so much nonsense out there.

  56. Bocskor Says:

    Thanks for the post. I posted this on digg =)

  57. Sieber Says:

    I like this blog, nice!

  58. Stephensen Says:

    I will feed your RSS after this useful article. Thanks a lot.

  59. Berkovitz Says:

    I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. I assure this would be beneficial for most of the people.

  60. Female Says:

    Your great blog is definitely worth a read if anyone comes across it. Im lucky I did because now Ive got a whole new view of this. I didnt realise that this issue was so important and so universal. You definitely put it in perspective for me, thanks fo…

Divine Betrayal Cover

Learn more about
Divine Betrayal
Sign up here

To view full cover click here

  • HOME
  • BLOG

  • Copyright © 2009 Grand Sierra Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. Site Design by monkeyCmedia

    Divine Betrayal is proudly powered by WordPress
    Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).