2006.06.13: June 13, 2006: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Language: Atlanta Journal Constitution: Tim Schnabel writes: Forty years ago this month, I began training to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Brazil: Peace Corps Brazil: The Peace Corps in Brazil: 2006.06.13: June 13, 2006: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Language: Atlanta Journal Constitution: Tim Schnabel writes: Forty years ago this month, I began training to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil

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Tim Schnabel writes: Forty years ago this month, I began training to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil

Tim Schnabel  writes: Forty years ago this month, I began training to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil

The returned Peace Corps volunteers from Brazil who were part of the training staff told us that we would become fluent within six months. I found that hard to believe, but it came to be true. By the time I traveled up and down the Amazon River 10 months later, few thought I was an American.

Tim Schnabel writes: Forty years ago this month, I began training to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil

Brazilians should give English a try

By TIM SCHNABEL
Published on: 06/13/06

Forty years ago this month, I began training to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil. I was excited to be going to serve in the only South American country where Spanish is not the principal language.

I would be deployed by myself to a small city in the interior, so the necessity to become proficient in Portuguese was the cornerstone of my comprehensive training.
(ENLARGE)
Tim Schnabel of Lilburn is a marriage and family therapist in Lilburn.


The returned Peace Corps volunteers from Brazil who were part of the training staff told us that we would become fluent within six months. I found that hard to believe, but it came to be true. By the time I traveled up and down the Amazon River 10 months later, few thought I was an American.

As the only American for many miles around and the only one who spoke English in my town of 6,000 people, I immersed myself in their language and rich culture. I worked with Food for Peace, coached a softball team and taught English. My living allowance was $48 a month.

For six months I even had a Brazilian girlfriend. While I had infrequently dated during high school and college, I never had a steady. So the first time a love interest told me she loved me, it was in Portuguese, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

A few years after Peace Corps I returned to work in Sao Paulo. It is now more than 30 years since I have been back.

I fell in love with the country, the people, the diverse culture, learning so much about the Brazilian history and way of life. I received much more than I gave.

Today in Atlanta there are as estimated 35,000 Brazilians. But many of them are not living among us. They live among themselves. When I frequent a couple of my favorite Brazilian restaurants, I am shocked that after all these years, my Portuguese is often more functional than their English.

Sadly, they don't have to learn English. They either learn a few words to get by or designate one among their group to interpret.

Our generational missions are quite different. I went to Brazil to serve my country and make a contribution; they came to the United States to earn enough money to support themselves and loved ones back home. Many plan to return to Brazil.

I think Portuguese is an incredibly lovely and sensuous language, far more so than English, but it is English that will be the vehicle to building relationships here in Atlanta. I encourage Brazilians to stretch and become proficient.





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Story Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Brazil; Language

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