|Raising American Children in Brazil |
| By David Persons|
February 15, 2011
Back in the USA my wife (Brazilian) and I never really gave much thought to raising our family in Brazil, since we were well established there, but late 2006 as we felt the crisis coming we started to discuss the possibilities of international relocation. Since the US economy was heading towards a collapse and by mid 2007 we had made the final decision to relocate to Brazil after carefully considering the alternatives...
By relocating we would be able to maintain a similar quality of life and continue private schooling for our children, which was and has always been our priority from the beginning. We then made the "Move" internationally, we loaded up our house into a container and shipped it out. In 45 days our home would arrive so we had made arrangements for a place to stay until the container with our house contents in it arrived.
We immediately enrolled the children in a parochial school known to be one of the best to the region. Our son, 3 at the time, spoke no Portuguese yet had a fair understanding. Our daughter, who was 5 at the time, spoke English well and had a good handle on Portuguese. The school accepted them with open arms and our daughter was socializing and adapting very well. Our son was able to do the same as a toddler, he could figure it all out except for the language. But his sister was called upon several times throughout the day to translate during the process.
As time went on we discovered that our son was switching his first language to Portuguese and ended up doing so, as our daughter has managed to keep English as her first language and dominate Portuguese. The children now communicate only in Portuguese between themselves and I the "American" of the family continue to speak only in English with them both. This enables our daughter to maintain a healthy English vocabulary and our son has started to take interest in English again at the bold age of 5. He mimics his sister and yet he understands about 70% of what we say.
We enrolled the children into a new private school well known in the region - it has been around for more than 100 years, although not Catholic, but has smaller classes. They teach English there too. The 7 hour school day in the US was great, but the 4 hour school day in Brazil just does not teach the same. We have set up home study for them to strengthen their academic skills. At this time we administer the home study in Portuguese to reinforce their current learning environment. We also have some great material in English that we use to keep the "American" in them alive.
From their birth until now we definitely let them know that they are special, have a gift of two nationalities, and that they are Americans being raised in Brazil. We keep their culture alive with DVDs, music, books, education and food. We set an American meal with all the trimmings on the table 2 or 3 times a week. It is normal for them to eat meat, potatoes and gravy (yummy) - they love it. Rice and beans also have a place on our table on the other days.
In a nut shell it‘s about values. Everything about them, all the way down to their DNA, has American written all over it, and they were aware of their heritage from day one. Just as we did in the US we are doing in Brazil and it seems to be working well so far...