Brazilian women in Florida – challenges and achievements

Paula Schitine – editor

Women represent a productive and creative force for the Brazilian community
from South Florida. and most of them are mothers and we couldn’t help but honor them on this special day, congratulating them on their achievements and also raising awareness of the challenges of immigration.

There are currently 500 thousand Brazilians in Florida, a large part of this population is made up of mothers, women who represent a significant portion of the population, not only as companions, wives and mothers, but as entrepreneurs, workforce and inspiration.

We selected two representatives of the Brazilian community, members of the community to draw a profile of the emigrants and find out from their perspective the main challenges and achievements of our
representatives in the Land of Uncle Sam.

We spoke with Suzanne Thorson, from Bahia, founder of the company Brazilian Beat and artistic and cultural advisor to the Brazil International Foundation. And with Mônica Ribeiro, from Rio, who has been in the United States for 28 years, current vice-president of Banco do Brasil, member of the Citizens Council of the Brazilian Consulate in Miami, and former president of the Brazilian Business Group for two terms. Two voices in different fields of activity, but with equal passion for community services and Brazilian culture, who talk about their trajectories and activities in the Brazilian community in Florida.

How did you start working for the Brazilian community in Florida?

Mônica Ribeiro (MR): In 1988, I moved to the United States with my husband
and started my career in the retail sector as a buyer, manager and director of
retail operations before moving into finance 25 years ago. Besides the
passion for finance I am also passionate about community services and dedicating
time engaging and helping the business community because I believe in connecting
people, build partnerships, develop relationships and create opportunities.

Suzanne Thorson (ST): I have lived in the USA since 2007. As I am married to an American,
At the beginning I really missed our culture, our people, our way of interacting and
make business. So, I started looking for groups that could facilitate the process of
adaptation, shortening the path to follow. I was introduced to BBG and since then I have only
I am grateful for being part of such an active and inclusive community. I also went
event speaker for BBG Asia (Japan) in 2018 and 2019.

What is the profile of Brazilian immigrant women in Florida?

MR: I very often see women emigrating alone, but the majority still
has been following the family. His role is not that of an antagonist and his desire to
learning and contributing to the success of the family make them protagonists of their

ST: A woman is essentially a woman, anywhere in the world. The woman who
emigrates, however, she has to be even more of a warrior, as she needs to
reinvent. It becomes imperative to adapt to new customs, relearn how to speak,
write, act in a way to be better understood in this “new world” that the
to belong.

What types of ventures are Brazilian women most successful in the USA?
especially in Florida?

MR: I see Brazilian women working in various areas, looking for fulfillment
professional through training. Many female executives in large companies and
also independent professionals. But it is in the beauty and aesthetics industry where
Many find success in the land of Uncle Sam.

And culturally speaking, do you think Brazilian women like to maintain traditions and
customs as well as the arts of your country?

ST: I think so. We miss our food, rhythm, colors and flavors. I went
applauded during the “Focus Brasil 2019” award ceremony at the Broward Center for
the Performing Arts, when during my speech I stated “agent can leave Brazil,
but Brazil doesn’t leave us” Pure truth! Agent brings a little piece of Brazil
with us.

Suzanne Thorson is a mother and entrepreneur as well as an artistic consultant
and cultural aspects of BIF. In the photo with journalist Fátima Bernardes

Tell me a little about your own experience and how you have helped
other newly arrived women?

I arrived in 1988 at a time when there weren’t many Brazilians yet, from
1990 this changed. I came at the invitation of my mother who already lived here as she was married.
with American. I had the privilege of having my mother as a mentor, which helped me in
adaptation. I studied and tried to “adapt” to American culture, but I always
valuing my Brazilian roots. I was a pioneer in the financial industry in South Florida,
being the first general manager of a “Brazilian” banking agency, at a time when
The vast majority were Anglo-Saxon men, white, well, I disagreed, but it was with the
my creativity and determination, I stood out and grew in my career. I have helped
many other women through various organizations that I mainly participate in
through the Brazilian Business Group (BBG), directing and mentoring

ST: I founded “Brazilian Beat” with the aim of promoting our culture. The rhythm of
drums, a choreographed samba and first-class costumes. Immersion shows
cultural, very interactive – job opportunities for several recently-established artists

Through BBG and BIF, we promote several events. Opportunity to network and
support the causes we believe in. For example, on March 30th we held a
event to celebrate women’s month, where part of the money raised was donated to
institutions that support women in vulnerable situations. The event featured
with the presence of the Consul General of Brazil in Miami, Ambassador André Odenbreit

How important are BBG and BIF especially for Brazilian women?

MR: Without a doubt, it is an organization whose mission is to bring knowledge
through lectures and offers business opportunities, through relationships
among our members and partners including US government agencies.

ST: Supreme importance, as only with the support of serious and
respected in South Florida, it is possible to follow a more serene path. A
community serves as a neutral field where we can exchange experiences, seek
guidelines, learn and grow. The Foundation promotes courses, an annual Summit,
lunches and various meetings.

For you, what are the main challenges facing women today and especially the

MR: The biggest challenge that all of us immigrants face is adaptation and acceptance.
of the new culture. It’s not just about learning the language, it’s about understanding and changing your mindset to find success in the United States?

ST: Women have to continue fighting to be valued professionally (with
remuneration equivalent to a man occupying the same position). I agree with the
Mônica, you have to completely change your way of thinking to adapt to a scenario
corporate structure very different from Brazil. Education to be able to compete on equal terms.

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