The city of Rio de Janeiro
Every city I stop in, the class requires me to write a reflection paper of my experiences, below is the transcript of my reflections about the city of Rio.
The city of Rio De Janeiro revolves around its Brazilian nationalism. Whether they admit it or not, they are proud and almost arrogant, as we are Americans. They feel as they do not need to change their language, culture or lifestyle, and why should they? As an American, I can understand their want to remain an original country, even though their originality is based on the upon a variety of different cultures. When I was told that the country was hesitant to learn different languages, I was confused, but as I walk the streets of Rio, I understand completely. Very little store shops, restaurants or barkeeps speak anything other than Portuguese and hand signs are the primary form of communication. From a first hand basis, I had to motion how to use a toothbrush to buy one at a local pharmacy.
The Brazilian culture is founded upon the pride they hold as Brazilians. There are not many other countries, other than the United States, that can relate to this persona. If the United States is a melting pot, Brazil is a stew. Their culture is filled with contradictions in the sense that, although they consider themselves one people, there is a distinct classification of race and economic status. That being said, the mix of African, European and Latin culture provide a distinct mix that no other country truly has. As we walked around the city I noticed notes of a small Mexican town, but then we would turn a corner and I would feel like we were in the bustling streets of Madrid or London. Their culture is a mix of different ethnicities and regions, and that makes Rio de Janeiro what it is.
The biggest events in the country’s history, the World Cup and the Olympics, are also causing a controversy within the city of Rio de Janeiro. While it is poised to explode in a golden age of culture and financial stability, it also has the potential to fail as well. The plans to develop the port region of Rio, as well as completely transform the rest of the city hold the capability of transforming the country into one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world. That being said, it could potentially collapse upon itself and face an economic and global disaster if the goals are not met. The undertaking to develop the port area itself is enormous, and in the time period, seemed nearly impossible. However, if they can get it done, Rio de Janeiro will be on my short list for cities to visit going forward. As I looked at the plans on Wednesday at the port exhibit, I was cautiously optimistic that it can be completed in time for the world’s biggest sporting event. That being said, I feel as the city, and country, bit off more than they can chew. The infrastructure of their garbage disposal as well as their transportation and the living and tourist destinations for the region is a massive undertaking and I am hesitant to believe that it can be accomplished in two and a half years.
The other major challenge that Brazil and Rio de Janeiro faces if they want to become a city of international charm, is their lack of internationality. The city and country are hesitant to learn English, and although they have said they are creating an English program throughout the city of Rio de Janeiro, it seems like a daunting challenge to make the entire city capable of at least understanding English on a basic level. While I have walked around in Rio I’ve noticed that nearly no one speaks English, or Spanish for that matter. To be a truly efficient and successful country, regardless of what the national language is, there needs to be a tolerance to foreign visitors. If an English speaking, or any other language, comes to Rio today, they will have a serious issue traveling the city or going to restaurants. To be a World Cup or Olympic city there not only needs to be a tolerance but also an acceptance of other cultures. I will say that there is incredible patience by the Rio employees to non-Portuguese speaking people, however if they want to thrive as an international city there needs to be multiple languages for menus, street signs and taxi cabs. It seems arrogant to say, coming from a country that is hesitant to learn other languages throughout its country, however, English is widely known as the language of the world and therefore America is in a stable place to host national events.
Overall, the city of Rio de Janeiro is beautiful. I learn something and see something new everyday. But as I look at it from the perspective of its future, and remember Mac Margolis saying, “Brazil doesn’t know what identity it wants to take” I see a country that is either positioned for massive success or massive failure. For it to succeed it must learn to adept and change its isolated nationalistic culture and become a city of international desire, it needs to reform. If it fails to do so within the next two years, it faces massive repercussions that could be detrimental to its future.