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Brazilians On Martha's Vineyard, Part 1 - 2002-03-21


English Feature #7-35886 Broadcast February 4, 2002

Martha's Vineyard is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean seven miles off the coast of the northeastern state of Massachusetts. During the summer months, the quiet New England island becomes a booming tourist mecca. Many Brazilian immigrants, who originally went to Martha's Vineyard to work in the hotels, restaurants and shops that serve the tourist industry, have now made the island their year-round home. Here is more, on today's edition of New American Voices.

"I love it. It's quiet, safe, make good money, everything is better here. I can leave my house and I don't have to worry about people coming around my house or not. I can just do my job, relax, go back home and know everything will be okay. I love this place."

Marcos Jacierto is the owner of the Island Star, a store selling Brazilian foods and goods on Martha's Vineyard. A Brazilian flag hangs in one of the store windows. Mr. Jacierto speaks Portuguese to many of the customers who visit his shop to purchase the Brazilian pastries he sells fresh daily. Now forty-three years old, he has lived on the island for ten years. A physical education teacher in Brazil, at first he had difficulty adjusting to his new life.

"It was hard. Very hard, because my life changes 100%. I never expect to do that kind of job, a businessman here, like now, to have a store. The first problem was the language, no English. Hard communication. Everything is different, live alone… Now I'm married, but I came single, and I miss family, parents, the country, you know, Brazil. It was very hard. Now it's okay."

Marcos Jacierto is one of about two thousand Brazilian immigrants who were attracted to Martha's Vineyard by summer jobs in the booming tourist industry, and liked the island enough to brave the cold winters and stay year-round. Now he owns a house and he and his wife are planning to start a family soon. Mr. Jacierto says that he is "almost there".

"If you have a dream, it just depends if you want to work, your dream can be realized. In the United States you can decide what you want to do for your future. What kind of a man, what kind of profession you want for your future. You just go to school and decide what you want. That's it. In Brazil, no, the chance is so little. In the United States you can decide by yourself, just do it by yourself."

There is only one thing more that Mr. Jacierto wants to achieve.

"What I want. My last dream will be - citizen. That's my dream. That's my last dream in the United States. The rest, I got it. I want to be an American citizen."

Another year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, Veani Pinto, came to the United States from Brazil three years ago. She lives with friends and works two jobs, one as a hostess in a restaurant and the other as a cook in a hotel. She plans to stay and work until she can afford to travel and see more of America.

"I want to have life here, too. I've been working so hard, you know. It's my choice. But I really want to have fun, here. I want to go to other states, I want to know, like, California, I want to know Hawaii, the best things you have here. But I have to make money first."

Ms Pinto, who is in her late twenties, says that she likes Martha's Vineyard because it's quiet and pretty and the Brazilian community makes her feel at home. She has American friends, too, but she says not all Americans are welcoming.

"I love the American people, you know, but sometime I feel, like, rejected. Because I know the United States has a lot of immigrants, from different countries. I know they think we are taking their jobs. But we just want to work, that's it. I don't know, sometimes I feel like they don't like us. But I like them."

As to her Brazilian countrymen on the island, Ms Pinto believes that many of them are successful because they have adopted the American work ethic.

"They work so much here. We have Brazilians here for ten years, for twenty years on Island, they like it so much. We have some Brazilians, they bought houses here, you know, it's very expensive, one house here, and they bought a house here - and they have a good life here."

The community life of the Brazilian residents on Martha's Vineyard centers around the four Brazilian churches on the island. Next week on this program the pastors of two of them talk about their work and their life here.

Today's feature was prepared and written by intern Mark Cabana. (Photos courtesy of Thomas Driemeyer www.bitrot.de)

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