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'My own culture'
Life living and growing-up in Brazil and Britain

Name-Pamela Gouthwaite
Age - 22
Where - Oxford Brookes UK
Studying-Youth and Community work with applied theology

Globalisation means the world is getting smaller. People can be born and grow up in one country, work and retire in another.

As a result dual nationality is increasing and more individuals are becoming multi-nationals identifying with several cultures and nationalities.

Diversity is often associated with ethnic minorities however this is not always the case.
Despite being born in Britain Pamela Gouthwaite spent a large part of her childhood in Brazil and her mixed cultural background meant she has been immersed in both cultures.

Pamela did not automatically identify with British culture and her European appearance often made her feel out of place in Brazil. Here she recalls to her friend Esohe her experiences, her difficulties fitting in and her gap year teaching in Brazil.

1. Can you tell us a little about you and your families background?

Hi! My name is Pam! I was born in England in 1980. About four months later my parents returned to their work as missionaries in Brazil. Just to complicate things my mother is American and my father was British! Every two years we returned to England (via the States) for a couple of months. I have one older sister and three younger ones. During the seventeen years I lived in Brazil I lived in four different states:

0-5 years old - Parana (southern Brasil)
10 years old - Mato Grosso do Sul (central west)
11-16 years old - Sao Paulo (South-east)
16-17 years old - Bahia (North-east)

So I moved around quite a bit!

2.What are the differences between growing up in Brazil and England?

One of the main differences is the weather! It's generally a lot hotter in Brazil. This meant that I could do a lot more outdoors. If it rained that wasn't a problem because it would soon stop and if it didn't it was okay because it was warm rain! A lot of my social life was developed through sports.

As everyone knows Brazil is famous for football but they also enjoy volleyball and basketball. I learnt to play all of these. As a young child we enjoyed simple games like marbles, hop scotch, tig, stuck in the mud, hide and seek, circle games and more. They are simple things that we got so much fun out of but in British society today these games are often viewed by kids as boring. Even if they do play them I think they grow out of them earlier. Fewer people can afford things like video games for entertainment in Brazil.

3.How do people in Brazil and England respond to you?

In Brazil I have always stood out. Being white with blonde, having green eyes and knowing how to speak English fluently people I have always noticed me. Brazilians are a big mixture of races. Originally there were native Indians, then Europeans came and colonised bringing with them black people as slaves. With the liberation of slaves and the independence of Brazil from Portugal these races intermarried and now there are people of all shades of skin with mixtures of ancestors.

Despite this, however, I still stand out. When I was younger I hated it. My sisters and I used to be called 'dolly', 'little blondy', 'thingy', 'pale face'. People used to ask us to talk in English and they couldn't believe that a child could speak two languages so well. I have now come to enjoy it and celebrate being different.

It was quite hard to come to England because here I don't stand out initially. When people look at me they can easily think that I'm a normal English person but as soon as they spoke to me they would ask 'Where are you from?' because my accent is mixed English/American and Brazilian! 'They'd often say 'I can't quite place it' or 'I can't
quite put my finger on it'! It used to really annoy me but now I have learnt to cope with it. I have more patience and recognise the richness at having experienced living in two countries.

4.Do you have conflicting interests as to your nationality e.g. Being English or Brazilian?

This is something I am constantly battling with. There are times when I feel more Brazilian and there are times when I feel more British. Every time I visit Brazil now I come back feeling more Brazilian. I guess I spent most of my formative years there and despite all that my dad told me about England and all that I thought was British about me, it wasn't necessarily true. I am part British but not totally. I'm not completely Brazilian either though and there are things about Brazilian culture that I still don't understand because my parents aren't Brazilian. I can't say that I'm one or the other. I have a culture of my own...!

5.Do you identify with or fit in with one culture more than the other?

Although I used to think I identified more with British culture it has actually taken me a long time to adapt to it and get used to it. Whenever I go back to Brazil I feel that I can just fit in again and catch up with anything I've missed. There are things there that I haven't learnt but I think I feel more at home there than here... Maybe that's just how I feel at the moment though...

6.Talk about your gap year/travel experiences.

Travelling to me is second nature. I have done it so much that I feel completely at ease with it. As I mentioned earlier I have lived in four different parts of Brazil. Each of these places had different pros and cons. Each place has a slightly different culture, accents vary, entertainment and leisure varies.

I have also been to the States on a number of occasions. Until I was 13 my American relatives lived in California about a block from the beach in Corona del Mar. It was amazing. I loved going there and visiting my family. As my mom is American there were also aspects of my culture that I could only identify with there because it is easy for me to think that I have seen it all (having lived in England and Brazil) but I was once again overcome with the beauty of another culture.

7.Why do you think countries in Latin America aren't so popular as tourist destinations? What advice do you have for people who want to go to Brazil e.g. English people or Black/Asian people?

I think people just don't know enough about it. People seem to be afraid. The media doesn't portray it as a nice place to go but, believe me, it is. Just as much as anywhere else I would think. There is the coast with beautiful, hot and sandy beaches, but also other aspects inland such as Foz do Iguacu (the widest and most voluminous water falls in the world) the Amazon Forest, a marshy wildlife packed area called the Pantanal, Inca Ruins
(such as Machu Pichu) the Andes and many other interesting things.

The cities can be dangerous places. There is a lot of crime and people can quickly identify foreigners. I would advise people to keep their belongings close and be alert as to what is going on around them. Don't carry too much money around with you and what you do carry with you put somewhere discrete (girls - in your bra - I'm not kidding).

Before you go out find out from your doctor which vaccines you should have and get them!
When buying things from a peddler (e.g. on the beach) try and bargain with them if you can, otherwise they'll totally rip you off.

Go prepared - know where you are going and the relevant things to that area. Take a range of clothing for warm weather. Footwear: flip-flops, sandals, trainers. Protect yourself from the sun!! It's very strong and burns quickly.

Don't try going to too many places in too short an amount of time. It's a big country with a lot to see and do and travel takes time.

8.Tell us about Brazil...the culture, people and country.

I think I've said enough above. It's amazing. There's something for everyone with desert, tropical, mountainous, and beach areas. The people are very warm and welcoming.

The men are charming, the ladies are beautiful. What more could you ask for?!

--Esohe and Pam

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