During the past few months, I started getting involved in blogs/communities/forums dedicated to immigration. I became particularly impressed by the incredible amount of sites of Brazilian immigrants chronicling their immigrant experience and/or helping other immigrants in the same boat (pun not intended). I have talked recently of how I felt about my own experience as an immigrant, and how my life has changed since I came to Canada.
When I first visited Canada, the internet was not so 2.0 and there were no blogs or interactive sites that I could go to share my experiences or ask where I could find carne seca in Montreal. Being comfortable in an English-speaking environment and not feeling that much of a cultural shock, I didn’t really seek the friendship of my compatriots when I first got here. I attended the occasional Brazilian event, but that was about it. I had only two Brazilian friends in Montreal that I saw from time to time and, until recently, had only one Brazilian friend in Toronto.
We all know that living abroad and meeting new cultures does wonders in terms of shaping the way we see the world but I had no idea of the impact of Canada on me until we moved to Spain last year. In a way, it shook a bit my perception of my own identity. In Spain, a country that reminded me so much of my native Brazil, I found myself often behaving and expressing myself in very Canadian ways. When asked where I was from, my initial instinct was always to say “Canada”. I would then catch myself and add “…but originally from Brazil”. Don’t get me wrong! I have never attempted to hide my Brazilian roots, even when I could have easily done so. But the way I see the world is largely shaped by the past eight years I spent in Canada. They were, after all, very formative years – I came here for the first time at 22 and moved for good at 24.
Yet, now that I feel more Canadian than ever, I started reading sites by and about Brazilian immigrants. I have even been promoted to moderator in one of these sites! Slowly, I made many online friends as I attempted to help people by sharing my experience building a life in the Great White North. Yesterday, many of us met for the first time in a pub here in Toronto.
The meeting lasted over 5 hours (!) and it was a lot of fun! I have seldom been in such a nice group of people. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and there was only one picture taken at the event:
Two people left after this picture was taken and another five to ten people showed up. The meeting was such a success that we are planning to repeat it next Sept 7th. Anybody else wants to come?