There is something you need to know: Brazil is beautiful.
You probably saw some nice fly-overs of Rio during the Olympics, but I assure you that nothing you see on TV or on a postcard do this amazing place justice. You should go visit for yourself. No really…go…
Wait…Brazil is scary, you say?
Ah, I see. You’ve heard horror stories in the news recently about Brazil being in the midst of financial collapse, their president is in the middle of an impeachment hearing, Rio is a dirty and scary place that should never have been allowed to hold the Olympics, yadda yadda, yadda.
Well, turn off the news, and reconsider…seriously.
I had the amazing opportunity this week to visit both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as a guest of a Brazilian publisher called Groupo GEN who did me the great honor of translating my first book, Flip Your Classroom, into Brazilian Portuguese. And to be honest, I was really afraid to go. I had also heard all the scary things about Brazil in the news and had some major reservations about this trip.
After wasting days riddled with anxiety and reservation, I left, arrived in Brazil, and was greeted by a very friendly driver who proceded to drive me through a vibrant, busy city of 21million people and took me to my hotel. Shortly after arriving, I met a former colleague who now lives in Sao Paulo who took me for a tour through the city. I very quickly discovered that all my stupid fears were completely unfounded.
Does Brazil have some fiscal and political struggles right now? Yes. But that can be said for many countries around the world, including the U.S. at certain times.
Was Rio especially safe because of heightened security around the Olympics that ended last week? Yes. However, I felt safer in Rio than I usually do in downtown Chicago, Paris, Rome, Bangkok, or any other international city where opportunists prey on tourists and other unsuspecting victims. Seriously, being aware of your surroundings and not looking clueless goes a long way.
In fact, despite my horrible attitude going in, I found Brazil to be one of the most welcoming places I have ever visited. It was filled with loud happy people who enjoy life, who appreciate each other, who welcome their guests with open arms, and who, despite the challenges Brazil does face, love their country immensely.
I will leave you with this. Stop reading the news. Seriously…stop…now. News outlets, click-bait creators, and, increasingly, your social media feed filters are feeding you information that will make them money and will affirm your preconceived notions. Ignore these biased sources and conduct some due diligence. Talk to people who actually know what is going on in the world and can provide you information that is not linked to a profit margin. Talk to people who live their lives in the world you may be thinking of visiting.
Do not live in fear.
Then visit Brazil.