Imigrar para os Estados Unidos

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Mary S.

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Parte 1

Historia

Hello everyone, my name is Mary S.

It all begins about 17 years ago, when I entered América for the first time, originally on a student Visa. After I had finished my studies, I went back to Sao Paulo, and re-entered the US on a tourist visa.

Unlike some, I did not left Brazil due to financial hardship. I was the general manager of Human Resources & Personnel for Levis Jeans of Brazil. I was a college graduated, with a doctor degree in psychology. I had a great job, a very comfortable life style, I was engaged to be married to my fiancée at the time; thus, I had no intention to permanently live in the United States. However, when I got here, I fell in love with this country and decide to stay a little longer than my 6 months staying visa permitted. I wanted to get to know more about the culture as well as to visit some of the other states. Obviously, when the money I brought ran out, if I were to stay I would need to find a job to support myself, so I did. I work originally as a live-in Babysitter for about 6 month, after that I had to relocate and inevitably, I had to change jobs. I remember my first salary as a babysitter, it was $175,00 per week, which was not a lot, but I had no expenses since I was living with the family and I was able to save some money. When I moved, from Fort Lee to Newark, New Jersey was when my real problems began. Prior to that, I had no contact with the Brazilian community whatsoever, regretfully; I must say it was indeed a very negative experience.

I learned the hard way that the majority of Brazilian that had the opportunity to meet had one thing in mind, which was to take advantage of newcomer such as myself. It was terrible to realize that my "own people" would lie, cheat and steal from me; take advantage of my naïve-ness and thrust-worthy good nature. Fortunately, I am a quick study and understood that the best thing for me to do at the time would be to completely disassociate myself from the community, (of Newark there is) and moved on. I am an Américan Citizen now and I run my own business, I am an Employment Agency Broker.

As I browsed through the stories on your site some of them made me sad, others made me angry. For it is unfortunately and mostly sad that people do not realize what a great country América truly is. The United States of América is the only country I know of, that people are fighting to get IN and not to GET OUT. Europe is beautiful, and so are many other countries including Brazil. Nevertheless, in term of life style, living conditions and opportunities there is no place like América.

The Brazilians that come over here expecting to have the same culture and values (or lack of it for that matter) they used to have in Brazil, are bind to be sorely disappointed.

Lets not forget that the USA is a FIRST WORLD COUNTRY for a reason, and not by CHANCE. It is not because they lie, cheat or sit on their butts all day long, but rather because the average Américans are honest, trustworthy, kind, hard worker, ingenious, clever and a very fair people. That is not to say that there is no bad apples among us, sure there is. However, I am talking of a nation, not of individuals.

Yes, we do work hard in América, (I myself work 7 days per week) my Américan husband which also own his own business get up at 5 in the morning, and  yes even though eh is the boss, eh is last one to leave the company at evening and has no qualms about working on Saturdays. Is that a rule of thumb in Brazil? I think not! The owner of a major company is the last one to show up and the first one to leave. Work on the weekends? Are you kidding, that will be unthinkable after all eh is the BOSS!

América is a country of opportunities, and indeed, we do have the opportunity to improve and better ourselves, because this country does provide such opportunities. In addition, if improving and making a good living is what one chooses to do, eh will inevitably succeed. In Brazil for instance, if you are born poor, chances are that you end up dying poor. Unless you get lucky and marry into money, become a TV starlet or a soccer player; you do not have many chances to climb up the ladder of success. No sire! You get better odds to be strike by a lightning.

Not here though! A good example is the former President Bill Clinton, that was born poor, raised by a single mother, went to college on scholarship grant and became the president of the most powerful nation in the world. Could you see that happening in Brazil? FAT CHANCE!

Most people that comes from Brazil opts to stays within the Portuguese/Brazilian/Spanish community, usually does nothing in order to get sponsored and/or to become a legal resident. There are those that do manage to earn a legal status or residency, but unfortunately, I have seen individuals that more often then not, choose to cheat uncle Sam rather to comply. I have seen people that file for unemployment, and get a job that pays over the table. This is pathetic, dishonest but unfortunately is true. I have on occasion, witness people bragging about on how stupid the Américans are. They seem very proud when they manage to beat the system. They are the smart ones, right? Sure!

They do not realize that by not paying taxes, they are not only cheating the system but they are also cheating themselves in the process.

Things were quite different 17 years a go, I can see a difference now; unfortunately, this difference is not that encouraging. Just to reiterate the above statement: I used to joke around with my friends saying: Give it some time and you see, this country will became another Brazil. Alas, considering the overwhelming flux of foreigners that cross our borders daily (now more so than ever) it does not sound as a far-fetched, ridiculous figurative euphemism any more as it once did. One major problem in our economy in Brazil is that the very wealthy which should more than anyone else be paying their dues to the country fail to do so, by cutting corners, the rich becomes richer and the poor poorer. It is no wonder the Brazilian economy is in such deplorable and depleted chaotic state. This is not to say that this is the only problem we have in Brazil, we have countless economic and social problems, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It is true that crooks, corrupt political figures, and bad citizens we find everywhere in the world, but in Brazil, they must grow on trees. The system does not work, for many reasons, but if we were to summarize, the core of it is the fact that people are un-educated politically and otherwise, and most do not have much choice as far as educations is concern; they simply can not afford it. The intellectuals willing to get involved and really try to do something to make a difference and change the status quo are a minority.

It is also true, that if one cannot invest on learning in our country due to financial hardships it is understandable. However, what are the excuses they have for not doing that over here? If you choose to live on a foreigner country, learn the native language of such country should be higher on your list of priority. It is the least anyone can do if they want to succeed dont you think? In addition, with same exception of course, the minority that does manage to learn English well enough (at least to communicate) often does not try to improve their language skills and education. They speak broken English, and that is fine, if that is how they choose to do, but do not go around saying that the reason they can not succeed in América is because of prejudice, lack of opportunities, and exploitation.

I see it daily, many are working here to send the money overseas, if that is their goal, it is fine with me, but to say that they have nothing because this country does not offer them options is ridiculous. Many do not qualify to get a skilled job primarily because they remain here for years without applying for sponsorship or change of status. Usually those are the one that complain the most. They do not realize that what they are doing actually is draining the countrys economy.

It is a shame that the Brazilian that resides here are not united as most the other communities. It is also a pity that there are not many people within the community willing or capable, to offer guidance and the right information. This website however is a rare exception. So please keep up the good work!

The man named "Elton" that says eh did not have insurance and are still paying his doctor bill, is laughable. Is eh sure that eh lives in the USA? Are we talking about the same country here? América offers free medical for anybody, and I repeat anybody that cannot afford. Have eh ever heard of welfare? Mr. Elton is completely misinformed. The irony is that regardless of his ignorance, here eh is giving advise to other Brazilian. What a sad and unfortunate state of affairs indeed!

One cannot expect to immigrate to another country where you must start from scratch and quickly acquire the same or a better lifestyle they had on their home country, or strike rich&that is obvious, however the United States of América has the BEST policy of welfare and medical assistance in the WORLD for God sakes!
What is in Gods name is eh talking about anyway? At least in América eh received medical attention. Try to go to the INPS in Brazil if you suffer any terminal medical condition. One would probably die before receiving any assistance. (The usually un-educated, illiterate and low income person that rely on it for lack of choices) would barely manage to get to the clinic to start with, and if him/her or someone on his family is, savvy enough to call an ambulance. (That of course if the pay phone around the corner happens to be working and has not yet been vandalized). Lets assume that eh /she somehow manages to get there, the next step will be to overcome all the bureaucracy, and form filling, nasty underpaid miserable attendants that hate their job. Without mentioning the long hours of waiting in line. If eh /she is lucky, eh /she might get a chance to sit in the waiting room, and do just that WAIT. Now, as far as getting to the point to actually receive adequate medical assistance, that is another ordeal.

I hear many similar stories on a daily basis: - Oh, how hard things are in América! How humiliating they feel to be working on unskilled jobs when they have a college degree etc etc&how little money they make, how they have no time to study and How tough things are, how hard they work, and how they have no chance to better themselves. How unjust this all situation is, or how they are being exploited.

The list goes on&some says: You know, in Brazil I was a lawyer (doctor, professor, dentist or whatever their fancy shall tell them to say) I really do not need this, I did not come here to be a house cleaner, a waitress, or whatever. I used to have a cleaner person in Brazil --Did you know? Really? I didnt came here to be exploited I rather go back to Brazil. Well, some of them actually do go back; just to return a short time after, with their little tail between their legs.

The solution for their problem is quite simple really  Vadia con Dios: I say! Do us a favor to us all, please do not come I can assure you they wont be missed&

Here or in any other foreign country for that matter, you will be nothing, nada, zilch, not even a number, until you learn how to speak English (or the language of the country you choose to immigrate) proficiently, until one receives permission to work one cannot actually expect acknowledgement as a professional. Duh! Besides if eh /she was such a big shot in Brazil why come here to begin with?

Incidentally, no one is being holding hostage against his or her will at gunpoint. Are they? What are keeping them here then? If somebody concludes this is not the ideal place for them to live, all they have to do is to pack their things and get the fout of here! In all truthfulness, believe me in same cases, they would be doing this country a favor.

On the other hand, if one has skill, that is wonderful, invest on it, learn how to speak the language properly, get certified or have your diploma translated and recognized by Américan Universities, work toward legalization, etc., and then, only then one shall expect to have their profession recognized, otherwise it is an exercise in futility. What they fail to realize is, that in reality, they should not be working illegally in the first place. Thus, they should be thanking most Américans for they do not work on unskilled job. What they should be doing instead is counting their blessings. On most European countries, they would not even get an unskilled job, and if they get luck and manage to find employment, they would not make enough money to be supporting themselves, let alone have any spare change to send to Brazil.

Second, in América most of them make more money per week, working on un-skilled jobs, than they would be making in a month in Brazil if they were working on their own profession. If that is not true, why bother then? Furthermore, in reality they make more money than the average blue color Américan Citizens themselves, for Américans must comply with uncle's Sam and pay a good deal of due taxes, which most of them does not.

Many also complains that they have no opportunity to learn the language, which is "BS", (pardon my French) since every city or town offers free courses of English as a second language with schedules during the day and at night as well as week ends.

Besides, as the old saying goes: where there is a will there is a way.

I know of people that taped programs such as: Learn how to read, Sesame street, (which is available on public television) went to the library and/or study and listen to tapes on their spare time, and after painstaking effort, taught themselves how to read and write in English.

There are many options; all one have to do really, is check the local library, high school, or church and the internet even. Go to Encarta.com and browse through it. Whatever do something instead of whining!

The reason they do not learn is because they live among Portuguese/Spanish speaking people, continue watching Brazilian programs on cable, read Brazilian news in Portuguese etc., so lets face it& of course they cannot learn.

If you do not study, mingle with Américan, or English-speaking people for that matter, read book, magazines and newspaper in English, watch Américan movies without captions, and use every opportunity to practice everyday, well&enough said!

Lets make it clear here that my intention is not to bash my own people. I lived in both country, and I know the good as well as the shortcomings on both sides. Nevertheless, I do not appreciate a person that bashes América either. If one makes a choice to live overseas, one must make an effort to play by the rules and regulation of the country they choose to live in. I love this country; you may notice I mentioned before that I became an Américan citizen; I did mention it for a reason, and the reason is: when I did swear by this great countrys flag to honor and defend it, I really meant it, and that is what I am doing! Nonetheless, let me emphasize that I love Brazil as well, and I would defend as vehemently if any foreigner and/or native said anything untrue about Brazil. It is upsetting to hear people making unsubstantiated comments. People should refrain from bad-mouth any culture for that matter, but especially when you are a guest or visitor of that country. To make allegations and false remarks is not only idiotic it is pointless. It will not solve your grudges, (whatever it might be), and it does not improve your conditions either. I remember an incident that happened many years ago when I my grandfather told a Japanese to take a hike! At a fancy upscale restaurant in Sao Paulo (where my whole family was dining with friends) As we were sitting on a large table next, everybody notice an agitated little Japanese sitting with 2 others at the an adjacent table. We could not help but overhear this rude person to say it loud enough to anyone that cared to hear how we Brazilians were lazy and how eh hated and despised our country and the all the mutts that called themselves Brazilians. How eh could not stand the stupid backward language that most of the world did not comprehend&the man continues then start using foul language, eh seemed oblivious to us children as well as that was women present. It seems that eh might be also slightly intoxicated. Considering that in Vino Verita est, My grandfather Arturo, (which by the way was an Italian immigrant) felt that those were indeed his feelings towards us. No other man in the restaurant dared to say or do anything, they were probably more concern in appear prime and proper than anything else, or perhaps they were afraid that it would not be politically correct t interfere, or because that feared to make a fool out of themselves. As the man went on with curses and blasfemy, my grandfather could not take it any longer. eh excused himself got up, standing tall on his 62 eyes of blue frame, and walked directly to where the man was sitting having dinner with his friends. Politely in a calm low voice, my grandfather said to him: Sir, I would appreciate if you kept your opinion of my country and my people to yourself, I do not think it nice of you to openly and publicly criticize a nation where you are a guest. But since you are being so rude to not respect other peoples culture, I would like for you to at least have the courtesy of lowering your voice and please apologize to my family for using such foul language in front of them  The man looked at my grandfather, obviously unaware of to whom eh was speaking with. (for Mr. Arturo DiBiasi Seraphinni would never s--- from no body) eh than hastily said for my grandfather to mind his own business. To that my grandfather replied: I would sir, if you were minding yours. If you do not like in here, what is keeping you? GET THE HELL OF MY COUNTRY, and please, do not let the door hit you on the a--, before I personally make sure you will. The manager of the restaurant that was observing it from a short distance and knew all my family well, gave my grandfather a glance of approval and had the obnoxious little man promptly removed from the premise, evidently not before formally apologizing.

I was a teenager at the time, but I remember it vividly. This story, like many others, was re-told countless time at the table on Sunday's branch. I chose to recount it in here to illustrate the fact that my grandfather, which was an immigrant himself, had learned from his parents to be respectful and appreciative of the country that embraced him as his family. In turn, eh taught my father and my father taught us the same values.

Someone that complains, curse and remain on the country are nothing but fools. If their choice is to bite the hand that feed them, they should keep they ignorance to themselves. Either that, or get the hell out. This behavior is unproductive, selfish as its irresponsible. You cannot blame an entire nation, by the negative experience you had due to your own shortcomings.

Américans in general are extremely polite, the most generous, trusting and people. To them to follow the rules is the civilized and responsible thing to do. I am sick and tired of hearing how cold the Américan are. People that make such statement cannot actually have experienced the Américan hospitality. Which is hard to believe, since I never and I say it again NEVER felt un-welcomed, segregated, treated with indifference or looked down by any Américan. I found it amazing their respect for ones privacy, their diligent commitment to others, their positive outlook in life, their compassionate and kindness to the unprivileged, their eagerness to lend a helping hand to someone in need and even to the very people that attack us.

I live here long enough to personally known a variety of people of all occupations, from the mail carrier to the CEO of AIG. From the bank's clerk, or the grocery store cashier to the Vice President of Valentino - Giorgio Armani, and so many others.

I have to think that the one that whines all the time are those that expected to come over here and continue to use the "JEITINHO BRAZILEIRO."

As they find out how hard is to beat the Américan system, and as they search in vain for a back a door, only to find out that there is none, because that is not the way, we usually do things here. Thence, out of frustration, much like the FOX of the childrens fable: The Fox And The Grapes. Who tantalized by the ripe grapes reach out to grab it for some off the tall grapevine, for eh was awfully hungry and desire to grab some of beautiful grapes, just to realize realizes it was beyond his reach. As the fox finds out how unattainable the grapes are, instead of accept that were his own shortcomings and lack of ingenuity that was preventing it to reach the grapes. Is After many attempts, which failed to produce a satisfactory result; salivating the frustrated fox mutters with disdain, to the other animals passing by: Oh, dont even bother yourselves, with these horrible grapevine. These awful looking grapes are not ripe enough, look for yourselves how horrible they look. My advice to you all, is to forget it at once, they are not good for consumption and trust me they probably will make you ill &and the moral of the story is&.

América is a country of hard working and generous people that appreciates the little things in life, such as the summer which is so short, thence a sunny day for them are really reason to rejoice. They really mean it when they say Oh, what a lovely day! We from a tropical country might think  it is cold  but for them if the sun is shinning and if the temperature is not below freezing it is a blessing. For our summer is so short, so they do not take a sunny (even if is slightly chilly) for granted.

They work hard, so any short trip or a ride in the countryside is truly enjoyed and appreciated, for it is a quick way to unwind. Even tough "time and money" is precious to them, and indeed the Américan mentality is to make money, but they do not forget the daily appreciation of life itself. I never heard an Américan cursing the snow, complaining about the day being too humid or too hot, the pollen on springtime, or even a devastating tornado. They take the good with the bad and mind their own business. Their most common expression demonstrate it daily, you will hear it from the cashier at the supermarket, from a friend, from the news commentator things like: Thank you! God Bless you! Thank goodness! Good for you, I am so happy for you! You deserve it! Thanks a million! Have a nice day! Enjoy yourself! You are welcome! Drive safely! Do not be a stranger feel free to call anytime! How lovely! You look so beautiful! You are great! The truth is  THEY REALLY MEAN IT!

I feel very fortunate, for I do have the best of both worlds. I do work hard, but I also play as hard. I travel often and extensively to all Europe, the Caribbean, South Central, and North América.

I live on a very large, beautiful and comfortable home. We have an apartment down the shore in A.C., a summer home in Florida, a small home in Tuscany, Italy. I have nothing to complain. In fact, I am thankful for everything I was able accomplished. I am thankful for all I learned, for all I endured, I am thankful for everything!

I know that some of you reading this might say, Oh, well of course, it is easy for her to say it; she is married to a rich Américan.

To those that might think that I would like to relate that I study English for 5 years before I came to the US, the scholarship I earned through Levis Jeans (the company I worked for at the time) granted me the scholarship to improve my English skills.

I speak 6 languages fluently, -- I learned Spanish -- which I read, write, and speak -- just by paying attention and listening. The first home I bough in América, was way before I was married and I purchased it with my own hard working money. I started my own business 1 year after I relocated to América, and by the way, my husband is no millionaire.

I read the other day on this very site, a posting of a young Brazilian woman saying, "Forget about trying to find fashionable clothing in the USA, the clothing in América has no style, and  by the way as far as MEN forget it, there is only ugly ones she says, I think they shipped only the worst looking guys. She then closes her long line of complains with this precious comment: The Américan woman are so jealous of us Brazilian, because we have quote <<Bunda grande>> unquote.

I am not making this up, search and you will shall find this pearl of wisdom and insight somewhere among the many stories posted on Imigrar.com.

My goodness, I can help but wonder where in the world someone could make such a retarded statement as this and choose to post it on a site that the main goal is to give insight to others, rather then misleading misconception.

For the records, the average Américan women are as terrified of getting fat (which is almost a compulsive obsession) and the fear developing a big derrière runs deep on their psyche, -- even more so I believe -- than to be infected with HIV virus. The worst that could happen to any of my girlfriends is someone who dares to make any comment or even a suggestion (not that any of us would, for we are too civilized and polite for that) that any of them might have a big behind. All hell would break loose, I suppose, it might even be grounds for a lawsuit. LOL

Regarding fashion, my question to the young woman is: Did she ever have the chance to shop at Sacks 5th avenue or any other great Department store in América? Better yet, did she ever hear that New York  the big Apple -- is the fashion capital of world? And that without mentioning L.A. It is obvious, she did not, unless of course it may be that perhaps, the only store she could afford to go window-shopping for her clothing was Kmart, the Salvation Army Bradlees or Sears and I think it is fair to presume, I suppose; quite possibly she was looking for accessories to complete her ensemble at a 99-cent store, if that was the case, what would she expect? LOL

The main difference is that the real wealthy Américans are not as slaves of designed clothing as our compatriots often are. Nevertheless, even though there is among us those that there might be considered materialistic, but again, the difference is primarily at least here they can afford it, do they not?

In contrast, you might encounter a "gazillion-ire" who dress up in faded (not design) blue jeans and non-design sneakers and you might think eh is a "NOBODY".

Contrary to Brazil, where people can barely afford the essential and rather starve then to accept who they really are. Most would not mind living in a little shack with no running water, but they would not be caught dead or show up at work wearing the same outfit twice on the same week. God forbid" if the get up are not a Calvin Klein, Versace, Gucci or any other brand name. A party? -- Ma oui! They will need an all-new wardrobe for that. Much like in Europe, (for Brazil is indeed very European in culture) where people often live of appearance; and dress up as a walking advertisement, showing off the brand names as a form of "STATUS" Right? YEAH RIGHT! Believe me, I have been on both side of the track and I know better.

What I would encourage my compatriots do is to show more appreciation, more respect, and more courtesy to this great nation. The United States is a nation that constantly blamed for all the bad things that happens worldwide (as well as within our own backyard) but that is seldom appreciated by the variety of good thing we do as a nation.

Was it easy for me in the beginning? Nope.
Have I ever encountered prejudice? Never
Would I do it over again? YOU BET!

What the unhappy bunch of complainers seem to forget is that they could never on their wildest dream drive a "brand new car" in Brazil, but here they can afford to. They could never own a "Big Screen Television Set, a Computer, a Cell phone or a regular Telephone even, but here they do. They continue the same trade of showing off, having lavished week ends barbecues, driving the "in" car, talking like maniacs on their annoying mobile phone, and yet they still expect to save money and buy a huge beachfront home in the Tuninikin's land and leave happily ever after.

Well, I got news for them -- Dream on. The truth is that one can make a good and decent living in the United States; one can actually succeed as myself and many others before and after me did. However, there is no short cut, there is no "Jeitinho Brazileiro". It must be done with effort, sweat, courage, and pride. It must be done with commitment and honor. It must be done the Américan way!

Best Regards,

Mary Seraphinni

PS: My apologies for writing it in English, but after so many years I do think better and fast in English then I do in Portuguese. If you prefer, I would translate it and resend it.


Mora em New Jersey
since 1985
pais EUA