Four years ago we moved to Brazil, and it has been the biggest challenge that I have faced. It has been an experience that has altogether changed me for the better, and each challenge has made me stronger. We arrived with 5 children and knowing all that I could learn from Rosetta Stone in 4 months (Hello, Goodbye and the cat is sitting on the table). I lost my bearings as nothing felt familiar. The simplest tasks like grocery shopping and going to the doctors caused anxiety and stress. I had no reference point, I couldn’t read the packaging to know if I was buying sugar or soap and it felt like I was spinning in circles for the first six months.
Thankfully, I met a group of english speaking Expats. The common element is english, but there are girls who come from Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Germany, Kenya, France, Costa Rica, the U.S.A, and of course Australia. Each week, we meet for coffee and a chat. I soon realised that what I felt was normal, and I began to breathe again. They helped me to find Drs, the best fruit markets, and many more everyday items. No question went unanswered and no-one ever made me feel uncomfortable for asking it. They gave much more than information. They opened up their hearts and welcomed my family. They hugged me when I was missing my family. They made me smile and enjoy the ride. I felt like I was part of a community again, and I now have lovely friends who live all over the world. Each week I look forward to the coffee, chat and the friendship.
|Sao Jose dos Campos|
After four years, I am no longer the newbie, and I get to give back to the newer Expats. I can see the same look that I had in my eyes, and remember that feeling. I know when to offer advice, a hug and, when to let them enjoy the experience.
Recently, friends on my facebook page asked me to critique images, and (finally) this is the link to my photography. Although I am still learning, I have more experience than others that are just starting out. I am using the same approach with my photography that I have learnt from my Expat coffee group. I welcome them with open arms, share my passion and offer practical advice that will help them to develop. No question is left unanswered. This is not a side of the photography business that I thought much about beforehand, but it is one that I love.
Next time there is a new Mum at the school gate, a new member in the local community or in your area of expertise, welcome them with open arms. It will change their experience…..big time!