Cultural Information - Brazil

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Cultural Information

Answers to your intercultural questions from a Canadian and a local point of view.

Cultural Information - Conversations


I am meeting someone for the first time and I want to make a good impression. What would be good discussion topics?

Local Perspective:

Good topics to discuss in this situation include: the weather (like everywhere!) hometowns and family (make sure they know you are from Canada and not the USA), hobbies, sports (especially soccer—practically a national religion in Brazil), travel, and sightseeing.

Topics to avoid include: the phenomenon of street kids, crime, and corruption. Most Brazilians suffer from these issues, and feel powerless towards any attempt to change it. The deforestation in the Amazon and politics in general should be avoided as a topic of discussion, as Brazilians tend to take criticism personally.

Brazilians, especially middle-class Brazilians, deeply resent being perceived or described as "Third-World", even though it may be strikingly obvious that Brazil shares more in common with Mexico than, say, Switzerland. One reason for this is, it has been common to believe that Brazil will take its rightful place among the superpowers of the world "very soon" for decades now.

It is not a good thing for foreigners in general to show impatience and frustration towards the local bureaucracy, or towards slow and inefficient services. In many cases, Brazilians are used to the way things are done in their country: they may view your impatience or frustration as a sign of rejection.

Canadian Perspective:

Brazil is huge and varied, and Brazilians will usually be pleased to tell you about the various regions and peoples of the country, the foods and the contrasts in music, scenery and climate. Those explanations can grow out of inquiries about the origin of the person you are meeting and about their family—brothers and sisters, children, etc. One should be careful not to ask people what they do for a living. Unemployment is high. A more indirect method would be to explain what sort of work you do and to ask whether this person has ever been involved with this sort of work, or what kind of work seems more interesting to them.

Brazilians will want to know about your family and country—especially about winter weather, clothing and driving, and about our national dishes and dances. Not every moment has to be filled with conversation, and too much enthusiasm for everything about you or too many questions will make people feel uncomfortable. Brazilians tend to be warm, uncomplicated, relaxed and thoughtful. The low keyed pace and tone of conversation reflects this outlook.

Brazilians would not be pleased to hear about the way we do things in Canada, if the intent is show Brazilians how to do things right. The web of social, political and economic factors in Brazil is so different, that the way we do things may have little relevance. Similarly, questions about the economy or political situation in Brazil are sensitive should probably wait until later when one knows the person better. Brazilians do not wish to know that you think they are just like the Latinos who speak Spanish, or that you think Portuguese is just like Spanish.

If you understand soccer, and know how Brazil has been faring, you will know whether to discuss this sport or stay mum.

Avoid offering opinions about anybody. Social alliances and factions are dynamic and highly charged. It’s generally better to gather information being offered by others than to offer it.

Cultural Information - Communication Styles


What do I need to know about verbal and non-verbal communications?

Local Perspective:

Brazilians tend to get close to each other when a conversation is taking place, no matter what the relationship is between them. Between 30 and 40 cm is an average distance, and this is also true in other situations, such as standing in line, walking in a crowded place, or browsing in a shop.

Eye contact (but not staring) is important, as a demonstration of sincerity and interest in the conversation and in the person being spoken to.

It is acceptable to touch someone when speaking to them, no matter the gender or the relationship. A touch on the arm or a pat on the back is common in normal conversation.

The "OK" sign used in North America (thumb and index finger joined in an "o") closely resembles an offensive Brazilian hand gesture. In Brazil the "thumbs-up" sign is used to indicate approval.

Canadian Perspective:

A good deal of allowance is made for foreigners, so you need not worry overly about being somewhat inappropriate. There is less social distance (between 18" and 2’) between speakers in Brazil vs. those in Canada. If the other person is feeling comfortable you may notice that they’ll move closer to you and touch you on the arm as they talk. If they do so, feel free to do that too. You’ll see plenty of gesticulation of hands and arms, and head movement while the other person speaks. Responding in kind gives you a relaxed and friendly appearance and will help put the other person at ease. If you’re consciously attempting to communicate sincerity, you should avoid giving the impression that you are crossing the line into flirting. This is especially important if you are a woman communicating with a man. There is more of a line between polite friendliness, and inviting informality in Brazil than in Canada.

The use of eyes differs a bit from one culture to another in Brazil. Urban Brazilians—most especially from São Paolo—are not too different from Canadians. They look each other directly in the eyes. In African Brazilian communities—especially rural communities, deference is shown by not holding one’s gaze for too long, and by smiling when glancing back briefly at the other person. Similarly, you may see this person cover the mouth when laughing. When the other person is talking, it is helpful to nod and to say supportive things that show that you agree, or at least, that you are understanding ("Aha!" "Sim!").

But be careful with humour and funny remarks. Better to let the Brazilians make the jokes. What’s rude and what’s funny differs between there and here, and so does the style of delivery and the timing.

There is, compared with Canada, something more of courtliness and reserve in both verbal and non-verbal communication, carried off with a sort of Mediterranean simplicity and warmth.

If you’re calling people over, it’s more polite to put your palm down and wave downward, mostly with your hand.

Cultural Information - Display of Emotion


Are public displays of affection, anger or other emotions acceptable?

Local Perspective:

Brazilians, like their Latin neighbors, are very hot-blooded: they display their emotions openly and don’t hold back their feelings. You won’t have difficulty finding out if someone is happy or frustrated, sad or angry. For example, if a Brazilian is not happy with service at a restaurant, they will complain loud and clear. There is always a good chance of other people getting involved, either agreeing with the complainant, or taking the opposite view.

Affection is often shown between siblings, parents, friends and relatives.

It’s common to see young couples kissing, hugging, and exhibiting passionate behavior in public places (the movies, in stores, restaurants, in the bus, in parks, etc.) One reason for this: it is not common for young, single people to have an apartment of their own, so privacy is hard to come by.

Canadian Perspective:

The display of emotion is complex. In Rio, I was impressed by the number of young couples embracing in public. That kind of emotion is open. Similarly, men cry. When one’s mother dies or one is injured in love, it’s the manly thing to do. To attend a party means to celebrate, to laugh loud and to dance. And there’s nothing too wrong with singing in public either. What is not acceptable is to lose patience with others—especially in the workplace, to castigate publicly. In fact, it is the absence of emotion, in such situations, which is impressive. One gets much further being entirely professional. The situation needs to be re-considered by the employee. Some other strategy needs to be found; some other tactic is being recommended. But one controls ones emotions.

Having said this, it is interesting to point to titanic rages that occur in public: domestic quarrels that burst out of doors, storms of passion that occur on a street corner because of a fender-bender involving two vehicles.

Cultural Information - Dress, Punctuality & Formality


What should I know about the workplace environment (deadlines, dress, formality, etc.)?

Local Perspective:

Although Brazilians tend to be informal, it is a good idea to wear more conservative clothes. Executives tend to wear long-sleeve shirts and jackets all year round, and businesswoman tend to wear elegant and fashionable clothes (skirts or pants).

The way you address your colleagues and supervisors is informal—the use of first names is very common. Professional titles are only used in introductions.

Punctuality is expected when arriving for work. However, meetings often start late (it can vary from 10 to 40 min). Brazilians tend to see time as a sequence of events (as opposed to hours and minutes). For example, if they are late because a previous engagement took longer than expected, they will view the delay with your meeting as a natural consequence.

Deadlines can be flexible, depending very much on the situation. However, if you encounter difficulties meeting the original dates, you are expected to discuss the issue with your supervisor.

Canadian Perspective:

Work-related behaviour varies somewhat from North to South, and between the coast and the interior.

In the north, and in cities in the interior (including Brasilia) it’s hotter than in the south. Office staff may use uniforms. A Canadian man may be able to get away with a guayabera shirt (the solid coloured ones with many pleats, buttons and pockets), slacks and leather shoes. A short-sleeved guayabera might even be acceptable if it’s very hot. I have felt comfortable in slacks and blue or white oxford dress shirts too. Women may be able to use plain skirts and blouses and low heels. Avoid clothes that are too bright or heavily patterned.

São Paolo tends to be more formal. A tie and jacket may be expected of men, and a simple dress and heels of women.

Many offices and businesses have done away with a mid-day break—especially in large cities.The workday runs from 9 to 5, and lunch lasts an hour.There are exceptions.

There is a fair amount "verticality" in the structure of many Brazilian organizations, which implies a degree of deference, and an unwillingness to make too many decisions. Bosses are generally addressed as Mr or Mrs. So-and-so. (pronounced seng-or; seng-ora). Colleagues should initially be addressed this way too. Let them know your first name, if they use it, you could return the confidence.

I would arrive on time for work and for appointments and avoid absenteeism and missed deadlines. They may apply to the boss, but not to you. Some employees may be lax, in these behaviours, but they are not appreciated. Let your colleagues set the pace if you’re attending a meeting with them. Because more senior people may postpone or change the date of meetings, it’s wise to re-confirm with their secretaries just before meeting time.

Be sure to thank secretaries for their assistance after meetings. They appreciate your thoughtfulness, and they can sometimes facilitate future appointments.

Cultural Information - Preferred Managerial Qualities


What qualities are most highly regarded in a local superior/manager? How will I know how my staff view me?

Local Perspective:

Respect towards your staff, being accepting of (and not critical of) the infrastructure of the institution or business in question, a good sense of camaraderie, and your relevant professional knowledge will contribute to the level of respect you attain.

Canadian Perspective:

Perhaps above all, two qualities in a superior are most highly regarded. The first is appropriate experience. It will be fully understood that a newcomer to Brazil will be unfamiliar with local complexities. But when it comes to management within a particular area, depth of experience will win over supporters.

The ability to rely upon those reporting to the boss is probably the other greatest needed quality. Many Brazilian bosses function as authoritarians—especially true among those who are not so good at what they do. Honestly seeking input from the members of the superior’s inner team, before taking an independent and forthright decision, may initially confound people who are not used to being asked for their opinions. But there will soon be positive benefits as a result.

Cultural Information - Hierarchy and Decision-making


In the workplace, how are decisions taken and by whom? Is it acceptable to go to my immediate supervisor for answers or feedback?

Local Perspective:

Ideas are generated by individuals in the team; it is acceptable that you go to your immediate supervisor for answers or feedback.

Canadian Perspective:

In many Brazilian organizations, ideas are frequently generated at the very top of the organization. These may come from the Chair and some of the senior Board members, and from the General Manager. The General Manager may also admit one or two of his more trusted assistants into discussions, which generate ideas. In such organizations, ideas seldom come from lower levels, and are seldom sought. Employees are given a task to complete and expected to comply. Regulations are pretty well defined. Compliance is expected.

For this reason, discussions with one’s immediate supervisor about project ideas would often seem peculiar to the supervisor. Offering opinions or recommendations would seem intrusive. There will, of course, be exceptions. The general expectation is that the assigned report, or project design will not deviate very much from earlier reports and project designs on file. The tendency to replicate may limit organizations, and frustrate creative North Americans. One suggestion is to include alternatives ’A’ and ’B’ in plans and reports, suggesting the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.

Cultural Information - Religion, Class, Ethnicity, & Gender


Briefly describe the local culture’s attitudes regarding the following: Gender, Class, Religion and Ethnicity. What impact would the above attitudes have on the workplace?

Local Perspective:

Men are expected to be the family patriarch, the "provider". Women are expected to supervise the household, managing the upbringing of kids. This includes taking them to the doctor, attending school meetings, overseeing school homework, etc.

Men making comments or whistling at passing women is part of the local culture, and seems to have been assimilated by both parties.

As might be expected, in the workplace there are many more men in top decision-making positions than women. It should be said, however, that the status of women in Brazil is considerably higher than in most Latin American countries.

Although predominantly Catholic, Brazil has other different forms of religion, for example Judaism, Protestantism, and several African religious cults (Candomble, Umbanda, Macumba). These last ones can sometimes seem strange and outlandish to foreigners, but they are taken very seriously by their followers. Brazilians practice their chosen religion in different degrees, but this does not affect leisure activities or the workplace.

Class plays a big part in the Brazilian society (as in most developing countries), and the higher the class you belong to, the more respect you get. One way in which the class distinction is apparent: it is expected that servants not use the front door of a house, but the back or the side door (entrada de servico, in Portuguese), as well as accessing apartments in high-rise buildings by the service elevator (elevador de servico).

Generally speaking if you are a daughter of a maid, chances are that you will be a maid as well, and so will your daughter. Labor is cheap in Brazil, which allows the rich to have many servants (maids, cooks, cleaning women, gardeners, chauffeurs), and most middle-class homes have at least one live-in maid. In this case they will be involved in doing all household tasks, including babysitting, cooking, washing, laundry, cleaning, serving meals, feeding pets, etc.

Brazil is a country of many different races and ethnicity. With the mixing of peoples, new races emerged in what is called "the different colors of Brazil". For example, white Portuguese colonists mixed with the indigenous females, resulting in a race called "mamelucos". The mix of Negro and Indian blood resulted in the "cafusos" and the blend of blacks and whites resulted in the "mulatos". These terms are now slightly out-of-date. Where Brazil was a black and white nation back in the 1940’s, today it is an increasingly "brown" one.

Immigration also played a big part in the varied ethnicity found in Brazil. Sao Paulo, for example, has the largest Japanese population found outside Japan. In the South, there is a significant concentration of Germans and Italians, and black cultural identity is predominant in the state of Bahia (northeast region).

Of all the groups mentioned above, it is blacks and the mulatos that tend to suffer discrimination, conscious or not, in the workplace and in Brazilian society. Still, in general race relations are more relaxed than in the United States.

Canadian Perspective:

Of the factors listed above, religion would probably be least influential as a factor affecting attitudes in the workplace. Brazilians are Catholic so far as Brazilians are concerned, and the issue is not of public importance. Gender could be an issue inland and along the northern coast in the sense that women as peers are more objectivized, and not taken so seriously as equals. Class could be a factor if a peer were seen as of very low status or from a very ’good’ family. Ethnicity could be important if a peer in a business context, were Amer-Indian, an unlikely occurrence.

Extreme class difference could reduce the flow of communications.

Cultural Information - Relationship-building


How important is it to establish a personal relationship with a colleague or client before getting to business?

Local Perspective:

It is key to establish a personal relationship with a colleague or client before getting to business, as business in Brazil is very "social".

As Brazil is a very family-centred society, you could consider yourself to have achieved an appropriate relationship when the families of all parties become involved. For example, dinner at your client’s house (or vice-versa), a family weekend at you client’s summer house (at the beach or in the hills), and dining out with the respective spouses.

It generally takes from days to weeks establish this relationship.

Important differences between private and public institutions include: employee mentality, the time/money relationship, and bureaucracy. The Brazilian public sector can seem like a cumbersome bureaucracy. The private sector tends to have more entrepreneurial-minded people, and tends to see time as equal to money and have fewer layers of decision-making than the public sector.

When you meet someone for the first time you should shake hands. A common term to be used is "muito prazer" (my pleasure). Greet individuals in descending order of status starting from the most senior executive. Other times you meet the same person, you can say "Ola, como vai" (Hello, how are you?) or "Tudo bem?" (Is everything OK?). Men shake hands with men and woman "kiss" each other twice on alternating cheeks, that is, they touch their cheeks and kiss the air. Men and woman (even fairly casual acquatances) kiss each other in the same fashion, but NOT usually at the first meeting. Good male friends shake hands and embrace each other. Friends greet each other saying "oi" (hi).

Canadian Perspective:

Notwithstanding a large population, Brazil, in many ways, operates like a complex network of many interlocking small societies. Connections and favours are important, and critical for getting a task completed. Sometimes, when a tangle of red tape is threatening the success of a project, a single call from one friend to another can get things moving again. As a result, personal relationships with colleagues and clients are important, and at least some time spent at the beginning of every business session is important. Men will bear hug and pound each other’s backs, and kiss the ladies on the cheek. Men will spend a few minutes discussing a soccer match or an election, and everybody will inquire after family as specifically as they can (e.g. "Did your wife get to Miami after all and did she enjoy herself?")

Whereas men will joke with each other when initiating a meeting, they will seldom do so with women, toward whom they will speak with politeness. The degree of boisterousness will also be adjusted according to the age and status of another man. Older men and men of higher status are treated with greater deference, younger men, perhaps with some suggestive references, and men of lower rank in ways which reinforce the status difference.

Cultural Information - Privileges and Favouritism


Would a colleague or employee expect special privileges or considerations given our personal relationship or friendship

Local Perspective:

Simply by virtue of being a personal friend, a colleague or employee might expect mildly preferential treatment compared to others not so privileged. This should not be regarded as "sleazy" (like corruption or bribery). This is seen as natural—rigid equality is not seen as a virtue in Brazil. It is accepted that if you are friends with the boss, you will have advantages over others. Likewise if you come from a higher social class, or are related to a prominent family.

Canadian Perspective:

Favours (as suggested) to colleagues/employees are often expected where there is a personal relationship/friendship. There would not be a productive working relationship if it were not personalized, and favours would then be expected.

Cultural Information - Conflicts in the Workplace


I have a work-related problem with a colleague. Do I confront him or her directly? Privately or publicly?

Local Perspective:

Try to solve any conflicts with the person directly involved in the situation, and if this does not work, talk with your superior. If they have a problem with you, they will likely act the same way.

Canadian Perspective:

How to deal with a colleague’s work-related problem depends on the relationship you have with the colleague and with the nature of the problem. If the relationship remains formal and constrained, direct confrontation may drive the problem further underground. Questions about this colleague to another colleagues may have negative repercussions. An appeal to a supervisor may be perceived as a sign of weakness or incompetence.

I would suggest that questions to a third colleague be general enough not to occasion feedback. One could ask about procedures or general expectations, for example. I think that efforts to develop a positive personal relationship with the difficult colleague could be attempted. Having lunch or taking a beer after work may be a possibility, or perhaps attending a soccer match on the weekend.

You might suspect a colleague is having difficulties with you if there is a change in the quality of that individual’s work, if his or her behaviour changes (e.g. becomes serious where there used to be smiles or pleasantries), or if other colleagues are vaguely telling you things about this person that leave you somewhat puzzled.

Cultural Information - Motivating Local Colleagues


What motivates my local colleagues to perform well on the job?

Local Perspective:

Money, status, loyalty are important factors that motivates locals to perform well on the job.

Important differences between private and public institutions include: employee mentality, the time/money relationship, and bureaucracy. The Brazilian public sector can seem like a cumbersome bureaucracy. The private sector tends to have more entrepreneurial-minded people, and tends to see time as equal to money and have fewer layers of decision-making than the public sector.

Canadian Perspective:

One cannot assume that people are motivated to perform well on the job. Brazil inherits a management system with its three feet planted heavily in the Roman Empire, the Conquest of the Amer-Indians, and the domination of African slaves. Management systems are often vertical and authoritarian. That means that not everybody lives to work; many work to live. Expectations are that performance occurs on demand.

Cultural Information - Recommended Books, Films & Foods


To help me learn more about the local culture(s), please recommend: books, films, television shows, foods and web sites.

Local Perspective:

Brazilian authors: Jorge Amado (writes about the north-east of Brazil) and Erico Verissimo (writes about the South of Brazil)

Music: MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira)

Musicians of Brazil: Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Tom Jobim, Joao Gilberto

Traditional dishes: Churrasco (barbecue) in the South, Feijoada (black beans, meat—very rich) in Rio de Janeiro. Sea food: South and North East coasts. Cairipinha anywhere in the country: a refreshing (but strong!) alcoholic beverage made of cachaca (sugar cane spirit), lime, sugar and ice. Suco (fruit juices) anywhere in the country—freshly squeezed natural fruit and ice.

Useful Internet links:;; (site in Portuguese)

Canadian Perspective:

Personal favourites: João Gilberto and Heitor Villa-Lobos who combined Afro-Indian sounds within the classical structures of Bach (e.g. the Bachianas Basileira Nos. 5 & 7). Anything from Brazil which has strong Afro- or Ameri-Indian roots is also very appealing. Some of the music of Sergio Mendes is wonderful, especially the drumming (e.g. the Fanfarra on the Brasileiras recording).

Cultural Information - In-country Activities


When in this country, I want to learn more about the culture(s) and people. What activities can you recommend?

Local Perspective:

If you can, reading the main local newspaper is a good way to start. To find out the major news and events in the city you are staying, watch news on TV (Rede Globo is the main national station).

Prime-time soap operas are a way of life in Brazil. They tend to be melodramatic and slickly produced, but watch just a few episodes, and chances are you’ll be hooked! Brazilian soap operas are exported and watched around the world. They’re also a good topic of conversation, and a good indicator of society values.

Brazilian music is another big part of Brazilian culture. A few of the more well-known names are Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Chico Buarque.

Brazilians tend to be very helpful to visitors, especially to foreigners, and are rightly proud of their unique global cultural accomplishments, especially in the field of sports (soccer and car racing) and music. If you enlist the help of a colleague or an acquaintance they will be happy to help, not expecting anything in return.

Canadian Perspective:

Watch the news on TV every night—especially if you’re trying to improve your Portuguese. The accompanying video footage helps. Also, read at least one paper daily. If in a smaller location, also read a regional paper. Do this even if you’re limited to fighting your way through the headlines for lack of Portuguese. You don’t need to understand everything. In fact, not understanding provides you with a good opportunity to ask a Brazilian colleague for clarification. You can begin to get insight into differing political and regional perspectives on national issues.

Try to attend concerts—especially in a café or small theatre—featuring Brazilian artists. The quality is generally excellent and you’ll learn more about Portuguese and the social behaviour of Brazilians.

Brazilians are quite generous with their time and money. There may be limits to both. There’s a fine line between rejecting sincere offers, and abusing a privilege. While asking about ticket prices and getting to a concert recommended by a colleague, for example, the person may volunteer to take you. That could be fun and your colleague would probably be happy to join you. Each of you would pay your own way. But you wouldn’t want to obligate this person into entertaining you this way every weekend, just as you wouldn’t bother a colleague at work too often. Where the time and money of a colleague is being taxed, helping you ceases to be enjoyable pretty fast.

Cultural Information - National Heroes


Who are this country's national heroes?

Local Perspective:

Soccer players (such as Pele and more recently, Ronaldinho) are popular figures, since soccer is close to a national religion in Brazil. To a lesser extent, car race champions such as Ayrton Senna, and Emerson Fitipaldi.

Canadian Perspective:

Pele, in his time was also a national hero, this time a football hero. He was also a "nobody" who rose to national prominence and adoration on the basis of flashy skills.

I read somewhere that Brazil has no heroes. There may be momentary adulation, but nobody of lasting stature emerges. America has it’s George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns; Brazil does not. I’m not sure how true that it. If it is, perhaps it has something to do with distinct histories and national cultures. Maybe Brazilians don’t take themselves too seriously.

Cultural Information - Shared Historical Events with Canada


Are there shared historical events between this country and Canada that could affect work or social relations?

Local Perspective:

Not historical ones, but more recent such as the Embraer/Bombardier trade dispute, and a previous Canadian decision to ban Brazilian beef due to foot and mouth disease (Febre Aftosa, in Portuguese) could cause a little tension if brought up in a conversation.

Canadian Perspective:

No. If Brazilians have heard of Canadians, they have heard positive things.

Cultural Information - Stereotypes


What stereotypes do Canadians have about the local culture that might be harmful to effective relations?

Local Perspective:

Canadians (unlike, say, Europeans) often appear to have no knowledge whatsoever of how business practices and societies in general operate outside of a North American context. They can sometimes have the idea that the world is like Don Mills (for example), with minor variations.

Canadian Perspective:

Canadians may know about Carnaval in Rio, thongs on Copacabana Beach, the Amazon jungle and poverty in the Northeast. This does not mean that Brazil (even Rio) is in permanent TGIF mode. Brazil works hard Monday through Friday. Brazil manufactures cars and jets. Brazil is part of a free-trade association. The jungle is vast but Sao Paolo is far from it. There is grinding poverty in the Northeast, and there are pockets of wealth, education and social reform there too. Sao Paolo is industrialized but there are plenty of beggars. It’s all pretty complex and stereotypes are counterproductive. Watching the variety of behaviours and the factors shaping them may prove to be a better way to approach something as huge as Brazil.

Cultural Information - About the Cultural Interpreters

Local Interpreter:

Your Cultural Interpreter was born in Porto Alegre, in the south of Brazil, the youngest of 4 children. She was raised in this town until she completed university with a BA degree in Social Communications). She moved to Manchester, England to continue her studies, receiving her MA and PhD degree in Arts Management and Design from Manchester Metropolitan University. In 1992, she returned to Brazil and worked for 3 years as an Assistant Professor with the School of Fine Arts at the Federal University in Porto Alegre. Afterwards, your Cultural Interpreter immigrated to Canada to live in Ottawa. Since 1997, she has been working for a local software company (in Marketing), and enjoys such Canadian pastimes as canoeing and weekends at the cottage.

Canadian Interpreter:

Your Cultural Interpreter was born and raised in the town of Niagara Falls, Canada, the middle sibling of three children. He studied English Literature (BA), Teaching (English, History, Theatre Arts), Social Work (MSW) and Socio-Economic Development (Ph.D.) at Cornell University, The University of Toronto, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the University of Wisconsin (Madison). His work sent him abroad to Colombia and some years later, your Interpreter went to Brazil to carry out the evaluation of the Canada Fund. He lived there for a short while and visited project sites in many states of the country. He is fluent in Spanish and communicates in Luzon Portuguese; he moved from urban to rural settings, across economic classes and ethnicities while in Brazil. For the last 8 years, he has been living in Belize City, Belize where he does project development and management counselling work on a voluntary basis with non-governmental organizations. He works as an independent consultant and has 2 children. Your Cultural Interpreter is Jewish and married to a Creole Methodist. His hobbies include reading, guitar playing.


Country Insights - Intercultural Issues are intended to provide snapshots of the overall social and cultural norms as well as the workplace environment that a Canadian might face working in a specific country. For each country, two perspectives are provided: one by a Canadian and the other by a person born in the selected country. By comparing the "local point of view" with the "Canadian point of view", you will begin to form a picture of that country's culture. We encourage you to continue your research using a variety of other sources and to use Triangulation as an evaluation process. Although cultural informants were asked to draw on as broad a base of experience as possible in formulating their answers, these should be understood as one perspective that reflects the particular context and life experiences of that person; they are not intended to be a comment on any particular group or society.

You may disagree with or object to the content of some responses. This is to be expected given the complexity of the subject and the problems associated with speaking generally about an entire country and its people. We would encourage you to share your experiences; your contributions will help to make Country Insights a richer environment for learning.

The content of Country Insights in no way reflects official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada or the Centre for Intercultural Learning.