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Thundercats in Brazil

March 23, 2007

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


8:53 PM


I’m at home instead of teaching English class right now because one of my students (I only have two this month) was working in Maryland today and wasn’t going to be home until after 9pm. 


Such a crazy life my students live.  The more I get to know them, the harder it becomes to fathom how different their twenty-something experience is from mine because in so many ways, they are so much like me.  They love food, they love to dance, they keep up with politics and world events, they watch the same movies; this weekend I even learned that they watched the same t.v. shows growing up as kids in Brazil as I watched as a kid here in the States.  Thundercats, in fact, was one of their favorite shows!!  When the subject came up, Leo feigned reaching into his belt to pull out his Thundercat sword, saying, in a thick Brazilian accent, “Thundercats, HO-oooooo!” so that it sounded more like “Tundair-cats, HO-oooooo!”


Why does the world have to be such that these jovial contemporaries of mine must spend upwards of 60 hours a week working in construction, over 5,000 miles away from their families and friends, living in fear of being discovered and deported, all at the ages of 28 and 24?  It’s simply astounding to me. 


Really, life isn’t that bad for a lot of Brazilians here.  They earn good enough wages in construction to live comfortably here while sending money back home; they work with each other on their jobs sites, fostering plenty of jesting and comradery; but still, the fact remains that this is one of their only options for getting ahead in life.


Also, the loneliness that accompanies immigrants like Leo, who isn’t here with any family members–not even a distant cousin–must be overbearing.  My family lives only 3 ½ hours away from where I am right now, yet I felt incredibly lonely when I arrived home tonight to an empty apartment (my roommates are both out of town).  It would be insufferable for me to arrive home this way every night for two years, knowing that the only solace I could get would be from phone calls, not from the embraces or kisses of the ones I love. 


I feel great empathy for my students, and great admiration.  They work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life (save for my trips to Mexico and Montana) in order to provide a more promising future for themselves and their families.  My students, and immigrants in general, are just the type of people we don’t want to be kicking off of U.S. soil.


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