Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why I Celebrate World Cup

Why I Celebrate World Cup



There's been so much controversy surrounding this World Cup. It's almost a taboo in some circles to admit that you are not only excited about it but fully intend to make the most of the celebration.

This year the World Cup is being hosted by Brazil. Notably one of the, if not the best team in the world. In the midst of this is the reality that the nation has grossly neglected to care for very basic needs of the people in the areas of health care, transportation and education. In spite of this,  the government is picking up the tab for the most costly World Cup in history. Not surprisingly the citizens are angry and protesting change. All the eyes of the world are on Brazil and the time has come for the citizens to have their voices heard.

So, should we boycott the game ?

When I was one my parents moved our family to Brazil where they began their missionary work until we returned when I was nearly 10 years old. It took me a while to fully understand the conflict of feeling like an immigrant in my own country , Canada. I had never studied here. My culture was based on Brazilian media and society. And , my English contact was a jumbled mess of other English speaking missionaries from around the world. None the less, there  is no such ESL or integration programme for white Canadians who are "fresh off the boat".

At best, the Brazilians we amused by my Portuguese (and yes, Brazilians speak Portuguese, not "Brazilian"). Humoured by the sight of an obviously Canadian family so culturally emeshed in theirs. Little by little, it was easier to integrate into my Canadian society. This has always been a situation that has saddened me. Left a void of sorts in my life story. I have never returned to Brazil and consequently I feel like there is a piece of my childhood that has simply vanished.

However, I hold dear the feeling of community and national pride I remember being privy to in my childhood. Streets lined with banners and flags. Bonfires, dancing, music and utter abandon in the way neighbours would celebrate together. Roasted corn, fire works, straw hats , barefoot , bare chested boys kicking balls on dirty streets. Girls with belly's bared and little skirts playing the parts of cheerleaders. Drunks at the bar playing dominoes outside. Women in the local favela's setting up food outside to share with anyone. Drums. Whistles.

These are fragments of my life. These are slivers of my roots. 

I'm not jumping on the band wagon. I'm not trying to force myself into a culture that's not mine. I'm not even supporting the government's choices. I just want to feel the way I remember feeling when I was a little girl. To capture the excitement. To share in the celebration. To cheer on a nation who embraced me for nearly a decade in very tender years. To remember that those days existed.

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