Key observations so far about Brazil (causing mischief at Voël Design!)

I’d like to share with you a couple of things that I’ve noticed from my time in Brazil so far.

I’ve been learning a lot of things: firstly, how to make a caipirinha! (See my Youtube video below, and give it a go yourself). I’ve learned that the Voël team can help me get up to a lot of mischief – see the pictures below.

Moving to different countries and immersing myself in different cultures has made me realise how you become familiar with them within a period of 3-4 weeks, when your ‘fresh eyes’ are gone (or at least they’re not your freshest eyes any more!)

Being in Brazil with a group of relaxed people from Belo Horizonte is really good for my dyslexic brain, because I know I have to communicate very directly and only say what’s important. I don’t have the opportunity to speed up and go off at tangents, so my brain is very relaxed and by the end of the day it’s not necessarily going as fast as it usually does! I really think the work-life balance here is really good – they do work hard, but their relaxed nature means they walk and talk slowly, taking time to enjoy life. I’ve been told that working life in San Paolo is not like this, it’s unique to Belo Horizonte and places more out of the commercial sphere. But when you move up north the people walk and talk even slower! Because of all the different colonial people here, there’s a very different mix of culture in each areas including Japanese, Indian, Dutch and Portuguese people. They manage to live in some kind of harmony, and have developed a unique sense of empathy and ability to listen to each other.

Taking a long lunch break to drinking coconuts milk at Praça do Papa

Road trip with Voël to Ouro Prêto, Minas Gerais picture 1

Road trip with Voël to Ouro Prêto, Minas Gerais

Road trip with Voël to Ouro Prêto, Minas Gerais.

Funny at Voël

A fun day at Voël

At Voël we exercise every day!!

One thing I have noticed is that there’s a lot of big people here. I’ve been told this wasn’t the case 10-20 years ago, and with the growth in the economy more people have cars meaning less walking and more big people. I’ve also noticed that the diet here is very heavy in sugar, and when you go to the checkout to pay for your food there is always sweets at hand, much bigger display stands than in the UK, and everyone always indulges in sweets and chocolates. There’s a big diabetes problem here too, so Brazil is catching up with the US and the west in bad ways as well as good.

And one last thing, I’ve been taking Pilates and Portuguese classes and in each case they’ve told me to ‘open my mouth’, which I’m sure will help me with my pronunciation of English instead of ‘Geordie’ English! Although I might not make it to the US on my Design Walkabout, I may well come back with an American accent! As in Brazil the people speak with a US accent because their teachers do, and in Amsterdam they spoke US due to television programs. So I may come back with a bit of an American twang – and also speaking louder, as I have to ‘open my mouth’.

I still can’t quite believe that I’m on my Walkabout and experiencing all these things! My next post is going to be about social innovation, my work with Joyce Yee and Lauren Tan on the ‘Design Transitions’ book and how it connects with my work here in Brazil.

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