Immigrant Voices Podcast Project

Gloria from Brazil

March 05, 2021 Deborah Season 2 Episode 8
Immigrant Voices Podcast Project
Gloria from Brazil
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When her marriage fell apart, Gloria decided to answer her brother's invitation to emigrate to the U.S. from Brazil with her two small girls. She needed to start her life over again. The prospect of staying in Brazil with her mother whose child-rearing philosophy was in conflict with Gloria's was not an option.

So Gloria took the leap, letting fate decide if the pieces for her move fell into place without a major struggle. Her visa came through and an apartment opened up in her brother's building in Boston. So whatever obstacles might have kept her in Brazil melted away. 

She soon discovered that paying rent and getting her girls into good schools wasn't going to be easy. She started her house cleaning business Nice and Easy Cleaning Service. That's when she encountered the people she would call her earth angels who became part of her adopted family. 

Most of this interview was recorded just before 2020 lockdown when Gloria and I were able to meet in person. I caught up with her later by telephone to get her take on living through this pandemic. And you'll hear a few minutes from that conversation. 


Intro to Gloria 00:45

When her marriage fell apart, Gloria decided to answer her brother’s invitation to emigrate to the U.S. from Brazil with her two small girls. She needed to start her life over again. The prospect of staying in Brazil, moving in with her mother whose child-rearing philosophy was in conflict with Gloria’s, was not an option.

So Gloria took the leap, letting fate decide if the pieces for her move fell into place without a major struggle. Her visa came through and an apartment opened up in her brother’s building in Boston. So whatever obstacles might have kept her in Brazil melted away. 

She soon discovered that paying rent and getting her girls into good schools wasn’t going to be easy. She started her house cleaning business Nice and Easy Cleaning Service. That’s when she encountered the people she would call her earth angels who became part of her adopted family. 

Most of this interview was recorded just before 2020 lockdown when Gloria and I were able to meet in person. I caught up with her later by telephone to get her take on living through this pandemic. And you’ll hear a few minutes from that conversation. 

Getting to the U.S./02:22

Deborah: So tonight’s guest is Gloria, who has an interesting story of what brought her to the U.S. and what she’s been doing ever since. Hi Gloria. Thank you so much for being here. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the United States. 

Gloria: As you said, my name is Gloria. I came here a very long time ago with my two children at an age very, very young. Since then, I have lived here and made this country my home.

Deborah: What was the, what motivated you to come? Was there some challenge in your life? 

Gloria: Oh, yes. I came to this country for two reasons. My marriage was just ended. My two kids and I were living with my parents in their house. My children at that time they were 5 and 7 years old. And I wanted to raise them without any interference. And, you know, grandparents! There is no way that you can tell, “No this is my children and gonna be raised my way.” And was about too much love. And it wasn’t good for none of them. And the second reason that made me feel more into come was because my brother was living here and he invited me to come. We called on the phone. Sometimes I answered the phone. And he knew I was there  kind of lost. Not too desperate. It was recently the breakup. But I knew in the future it would be something like maybe I would be out of control. And according to my brother, it would be a very good experience for me and my daughters as well. Since I had nothing to lose like I told you, I decided to pursue that. After I had all the documentations and the visas, I decided to come.

Deborah: I like what you said earlier, when we were talking before we started recording, you said, you said you didn’t want to force it. If it was meant to be, things would go smoothly. And if there were obstacles, you would take that as a sign.

Gloria: Like I said, I was lost. I didn’t know which way. I thought going to a different state in my country. I’m from Brazil. It’s huge. I can go far and start my life over again with my kids. And then my brother invited me. It was a second chance. But I didn’t know what would be good for me for sure. Then what I asked to God  to give me a sign. Then I said, Ok. If it’s going to be hard to get a visa, that’s not the way. I’m not going. I’m not going to risk my kids. I’m not going to risk my self. But if this happens, I know it’s meant to be and I’ll take as a yes answer. And everything worked so well. 

Deborah: So when, when you came here, did you encounter any obstacles or surprises? 

Gloria: I think in my case it was a particular thing. My brother lived in a small apartment with his wife. He was married for just a few years, a recent marriage, and his mother-in-law who also came from Brazil. And we didn’t have the chance to stay with them. What he said to me on the phone when I was in Brazil, and then I decided to come. He told me, “There is an apartment empty in the same building where I live. I’m going to rent it for you.” 

Deborah: Wow!

Gloria: “And then you’ll be responsible to pay for it with your money. Because it’s gonna be good for you. The kids a transition for them. Everything is going to be so new.” And you know. Now I know how crazy I was. I should be worried. But when you’re young you’re not very worried about things. And I said. I’ll take it. 

Deborah: How many years ago was that? 

Gloria: Oh, 20 years ago. 

Facing Reality/07:53

Deborah: Wow. 

Gloria: And then I said OK. It’s crazy because it’s a rent to pay,  kids to feed. When I came the apartment was running the rent and my kids needed winter clothes. They were an age to growing. New shoes. New clothes. You know. Different food. And to make them. I was so worried about their emotional. In the beginning when we came, we went to Florida first, to Disney World. We stayed five days there. Everything was like vacation. And for me too! I didn’t care. I wasn’t living the real life. I was on vacation. And then when I got here in the apartment. A bed for my kids, one mattress on the floor for me. A little chair. No furniture. A TV that I think was kind of not black and white, but in very bad condition. Was a different world than my reality. But I didn’t care yet you know. Everything was in process for me. I just was living the moment. Not with. When I was in Disneyland, it was a vacation. Here I knew was different. But I wasn’t yet, living the real life.


Deborah: So how did you, how did you solve it? How did you get into the real life? Is that, did you have struggles? Were there any struggles? 

Gloria: Oh so many struggles.

Deborah: Tell me about some of the struggles you encountered.

Gloria: Oh my God. So many struggles. Imagine someone from a different country with two little kids that you love more than anything. Like every mother. I’m no different. And then you’re not able to manage everything. Work and kids and money and I had to work. My first job was in a catering company. You know when they do functions and you serve. And sometimes a few times I was kind of humiliated. Because I was once serving someone and he said, “I don’t want you to serve me.” And I said, “Why not?” and he said, “I want a native language to do that.” I was there doing my best. Humble. I remember that hurt me so much. It was so hard for me and I treat everyone so well. And thank God in a table of nine people the other nine people were so caring. So wonderful. Then I said, OK, don’t take. And other cases. But we...I want to forget about those things because I found, like I said, so many angels that lifted me up .

Deborah: When we talked earlier, you called them earth angels,  Tell me about, tell me about one of the earth angels.

Earth Angels/11:32 

Gloria: Oh my God. I have one a family that I worked for them. It’s because I had my children and I started as a housecleaner there. And little by little she got to know me. And then I started to also babysit her kids. And we became a family. And so intense our friendship that I remember once my daughter. Well, this is a long story. My daughter was finishing middle school and she has to go a high school. And I wanted her to live where it’s easy for me to control them. To pick them up and to know where they were since I had to work. It wasn’t so easy at that time when nobody had cell phones. Also, little kid with a cell phone. But this is another case. I went to see St. Joseph Academy to be able to put them there. They had three plans. First of all, you have to submit and then you pay a certain amount. It was a little high for me. I didn’t have that money. And they have Plan A, B, and C. And I said, “Oh my God.” I went to speak with the lady. She sympathized with my kids. And I remember telling her I came with mascara because this way I can remember that I cannot cry and I remember I was crying. Oh I wasn’t supposed to cry. I put mascara on because I knew with mascara I could not cry and it would force me to be strong. But it didn’t work. 

Deborah: So did you have streaks going down your face?

Gloria: I said didn’t work. Didn’t work. And because I said to her I don’t fit Plan B or plan C. and she said I’m sorry there is nothing I can do. And then God—I think life is a puzzle. It knows someone is going to fit that space for you. It’s something so amazing. My life is full of blessings. I’m so blessed. And then I went that day, you won’t believe. And then my client said to me, “Gloria what’s going on?” I said, “Nothing.” And she said, “Bobby’s here.” Bob is her husband. “He is waiting for you in the living room. He wants to talk to you. We know you need help.” I was at that time so emotional. So everything made me cry. And I hate that. I didn’t want to cry. I want to be strong. And then Bob was there and he said to me, “How much money do you need?” He had a checkbook. He said, “How much do you want? Tell me.”

Deborah: He knew you needed it to send your children.

Gloria: He knew something. And I said to him. I need to pay for my daughter because it’s gonna be safer for her. It’s gonna be easier for her and it’s gonna be easier for me but I don’t have the money to give them. Oh I forgot to say, the lady said, “I cannot do anything for you, but I can make a plan D for you, but I cannot make it free for you for this big payment.” And I didn’t have. He said, “I trust you. I know you gonna pay. I’ll make plan D for you.” Was amazing but I still have this thing that I didn’t have the money and without that no plan D. God just. It’s so amazing. And he said and I said the money that I need. I had maybe hundred dollars. And I said to him, “I’ll pay you back.” And he said, “No.” I need to pay you back. Because maybe I’ll need other times. Now that I know that I have this, like they used to say to me, “We are your nest.” They always say to me. And then he gave me the money. They only accepted half of the money. At least half of the money they accepted. And because of them my daughter could go to a nice school and she also was accepted into Boston College. All those things made the path change for her.

Paths to Change/17:05

Deborah: It made the path change for you too.

Gloria: Oh, for me a lot. Knowing that my daughter was in a small Catholic place and close to my house, knowing that when I get there, they knew my last name. They knew. And also I became more noticeable for them because my situation they knew. And I never ever gave any excuse to not pay. I paid everything. She stayed there for four years. And it was amazing. And I’m thankful. This same couple. Once I needed to move but nobody wants to rent for someone with two kids. And they always give an excuse. And I knew it was an excuse. I needed a place. 

Deborah: Do you think that it was because you were immigrant? 

Gloria: No, I don’t think because I was immigrant. I think because I was an, I am a house cleaner, with two kids was very unsafe insecurity for them. Especially by law to take me out.

Deborah: But they didn’t know your true character. 

Gloria: No. And then they always say, always give them. I always, Oh, I cried. So they said, “Oh, someone was before you.” Then I spoke with Bob. He said, “I’m going to be your co-signer.” Well, like this, I found the place and it, yeah, they are my.

Deborah: Earth Angel for sure. 

Gloria: That’s case. One of them.


Deborah: That was a great story. Tell me something about a success that you feel proud of since you’ve been here.

Gloria: I have many moments that I felt. I think the most emotional and scary moment. I have so many emotionals moment, but when my older daughter graduated from high school and I knew she had a dream to go to—and she’s a bright student student, oh my God. If I tell about her. She’s in the list has a book of the best students of America. She is something and she deserves. I was so proud to see some of my clients with me supporting me there. And I was so. 

Deborah: At her at her graduation?

Gloria: High school, graduating high school, but I was so proud that for me, it was, and I was so scared about now did most important for her college. How many children wants they cannot afford that? 

Deborah: Right. Right.

Gloria: And then after four years, my daughter graduates college. It was so good for me, was such a like something achievement that now she’s okay. And I made it. I made it.

Deborah: It’s a real success. 

Gloria: Oh yeah. And knowing like for me, I’m proud that we, we could manage to. Like I mean, independent, I survived. I went with my mistake. I went to interview. I take my daughters to the doctor by myself. I did everything with fear, but I confront all the fear doesn’t mean that I had so many fear, but didn’t stop me. Didn’t stop for anything. 

Deborah: That’s fantastic. 

Gloria: Now wasn’t easy, but it was possible. And I knew, I knew everything that I have.

Deborah: Were you like that in Brazil? Did you have that kind of confidence before? Or is that something that you grew into through your experience? 

Gloria: How can I say in Brazil? I didn’t have that situation. Everything was much easier for me. I was in a different category. I wasn’t a different character here. I was the beginning new different thing in Brazil. I know what I was. I knew how it was I was doing what I learned to do here. Sometimes I remember that I thought it was a nightmare. I want to wake up. I want to wake up and now I’m so thankful because life is a trade. When you change, you can. When I lost so many things. I left behind so many things, but what I gain is priceless. 

Deborah: That’s great.

Gloria: What I gain I’m inside of me. If you see like how happy I am, how fulfillness I am. It doesn’t mean that I have a lot or I have many things it’s not, but means that I survive. Everything was put in front of me everything and I knew. And I want to show my daughters with dignity. With people.

Deborah: You want to be a living example to them. 

Gloria: And I know nobody what I can tell you cannot do alone. If you have people know who you are. They know you deserve chance like oh my God. If I tell things amazing that unbelievable happened to me because they believe on me, on my character, that I deserve those things. And these what to make you you have to deserve. These is something that you gain new, you earned it, not your gain, you weren’t in debt. And I think I earned everything it’s not what’s given to me is because I earned that. Yeah. 

Missing Brazil/23:27

Deborah: Well, Gloria, this has been terrific. I just wanted to ask you one thing. What do you miss? Something from Brazil? I know the food probably. 

Gloria: My daughter. By the way, my daughter said to me, why everything for you is, “Oh in Brazil!” But when they go there, they got all in paradise. And now you understand how in Brazil it’s the best. Oh. Even every kind of food. Chinese food in Brazil, they are the best generally. It’s the best in Germany. I was still say that because we are good. I, of course I miss, but you maybe don’t believe that, but I learn in life. It gives this because I read a lot of things to make me, you know, I don’t cry for things that I don’t have, I’m blessed for things that I, I have. 

Deborah: You appreciate.

Gloria: I appreciate so much but of course I miss. I miss the beach, the place, the food, my friends, my family. When I see them with the Samba and my brother has a beautiful place for the weekends. And sometime I’m working the day that I was working sweating even in cold weather. And they are there. I say it’s not fair! And then I miss that. I miss the smile. I miss so many things.

Deborah: What would you, would you trade it for your life today?

Gloria: You know I think you say something very important. Say today. Today I’m older. I think but I don’t know. I think I want to enjoy but I don’t want this life to be all the time like that. I don’t want to have only this kind of life. 

Deborah: Dancing and partying, right?

Gloria: No, but it’s good to have once in a while. 

Deborah: So are you finding a place to do that here in Boston? 

Gloria: I never looked for it. Never looked for it. 

Future Dreams/25:56

Deborah: What are your dreams, Gloria, about the future? Do you have?

Gloria: Well, the future, will you say like “down the road”? 

Deborah: Yeah, sure. It could be “down the road,” next year. It could be next week.

Gloria: Yeah. No, what I, oh, by the way. And then I’m saying in Portuguese I said the perfect position to get in town. Then because then I have a different concept about down the road that thought about down the road. The minimal is a year, but can be, one week after I did that. No, I thought it was a year or more. What’s a long term. I thought it I thought. 

Deborah: It does suggest a long term.  

Gloria:  What I want. I want to have more time for myself. I really, especially now that I start to. Now I’m in a phase. Such a wonderful phase in life that I am so blessed. I’m so happy with me. 

Deborah: That’s great.

Gloria: Doesn’t mean that I don’t want to get better. Many things need to get better but it’s good. I’ve improved a lot. I’m proud about the person that I’ve become, very proud. I know from some of my reading and things that I’m a better person. I want to be better and better. And I want to enjoy more my life. I want to be around people.

Deborah: You want a little more fun.

Gloria: It’s not only about more fun. Something like essential like be with my family and teach my grandson. And I also wanna help people. My friends. To be stronger. To be a better person. Because when you go through life you know what helped you to survive. 

Deborah: You want to give back.

Gloria: I wanna show. I wanna express. I wanna do nonprofit. But doesn’t mean I’ll actually do it. But before I want to enjoy just resting, beach, read a lot, improve my English. Learn things. And try to fix my memory because it’s losing all the time. 

The Gardner/28:49

Deborah: Thank you so much, Gloria, just maybe just a couple words, how has the Gardner been a factor in your life in terms of your learning more English or meeting other people. 

Gloria: I’m going to give you a specific example. This happened last year I used, I used to text my client. And before like, think that took me 10 minutes, today it took me three. 

Deborah:Three minutes. 

Gloria: And also my daughter. Sometime when something very important, I asked my daughter to check for me. And she has done that even though she’s not patient with them. She always not have time, but then she said to me, “Oh, your English is improving.”

Deborah: Nice. 

Gloria: I said, “Oh, is that true?” She said, “Yes, you’re writing with much much less mistakes.” And I could notice before, I used to write a note for her and so many. And then I start one or two little things before was big things. Sometimes it’s preposition and it was getting minimum. And this made me more confident and believe it because came from her and came from people. Like I said, the other day, “What did you say?” “Excuse me.” “Could you say again?” Or a face like confused face. I don’t know if, because I’m getting always much more distracted, but I think it has happened. It’s become easier for them. And for me. I don’t say too much anymore “uh,” any more or get nervous too much like now. I won’t believe that I’m talking like that with you. I’m surprised. But what I learned is you have to have opportunity to open, speak out, say; don’t be afraid because my English is started to improve. When I start to come here and have opportunity to make my mistakes, to be corrected for them in a nice way, to learn one thing. If it was a month it was good. And talking with others is good. And I, I don’t have many people with whom I can talk. Here was the opportunity to talk and to show off. 

Deborah: Well, I don’t consider that you’re showing off, and I think people listening are gonna really enjoy your story, Gloria. Thank you so much for coming. 

Gloria: Thank you for having me. 

Covid Catch Up/32:08

A few weeks after this interview with Gloria, I gave her a call to see how she was fairing during the pandemic. And the following are some excerpts from that conversation. 

Deborah: And I want you to just tell me how this situation in the world with the virus and everything has had an effect on you and your family. And you started to say in a lot of different ways. You could just keep talking to me about it for a few minutes.

Gloria: OK. Let me start. The world has changed as we all know. And I feel vulnerable. I feel scary. I feel on one side I feel I’m lucky and blessed. To have food, to have a place. And to have compassion and sympathy for me. It’s such a different moment. It’s funny because I always wished to have some time for myself to enjoy all of it.

Deborah: You’ve got plenty of time now!

Gloria: And I cannot put things together because I’m having nightmares. Although I’m in a good situation right now a good one, I’m healthy. Like I said, I have food, I have a place, but I don’t know how far is this going. 

Deborah: I know. It’s a cloud of uncertainty. I had a nightmare about a tornado coming and I was hiding underneath the car. 

Gloria: You know, for me, I just like four, five days ago, four or five days, I decided to not watch TV. I go like when I want, I go to my computer to check whatever I want for that CNN, whatever I want to hear because was twenty-four seven. In my mind, the only thought I used to thought a lot about my grandson. All of a sudden, I put my coronavirus in first place of my God. I dream about all day long. And I don’t know what is wrong what is right anymore. Should I go to work because I need the money? Should I stay home and be a part of the stay at home order? You know, it’s so confused. It’s so complicated. And so I really don’t know. What I notice is that no one is acting normal anymore.

Deborah: Right. 

Gloria: Because you have to change your whole life, your routine, your habits. For me it’s easy because I don’t have little kids. But for the other side, I stay by myself, with no one to see. 

Deborah: Do you live alone? 

Gloria: Right now. And then. what, what doesn’t bother me, I don’t see anyone unless I go out, but I’m not supposed to go out.  

Deborah: At least a walk? 

Gloria: Today I did that. I’m not a walk person, you know. I don’t like exercise. Things changing. I’m changing. What I think is good about that is that we all are having time to think about what life means. I just want to take the best of that. I start to improve my inner. To be a better person. What can I do? And I’m having nightmare and when I see people that was in such a good place in life. And now things change so fast. And how vulnerable we are. How weak we are and how no everybody. I don’t say about religion. Everybody has to have something. I have God in my life. 

Deborah: Yeah. I was going to ask you what, what in your life calms you down?

Gloria: God and Mother of God. This is what lifts me up. This is what keeps me together, keeps me calm. Doesn’t mean that I don’t fear. Doesn’t mean that I’m not scared. But this gives me control. Nothing is bad forever and nothing’s good forever. In the end, I have to be strong, I have to be someone to make some difference for good. I wanna take something positive from that. I don’t only want to think how bad things are happening. But let’s take something for me to improve myself. Even improve my English too. 

Deborah: Your English is terrific. It’s very good.

Gloria:  I really hope that things change for better after that because for so short time the whole world is in the same situation—dangerous. Is that kind of war, but not between man. It’s something different. 

Deborah: Wow.

Silver Linings/38:27

Gloria: And we need to help each other now. We need to think about. Doesn’t matter power. Everybody are together. Doesn’t matter that the United State is the best country. We have the highest number of deaths is that so bad. The most rate. It doesn’t matter anymore. It matters that we need together fight.

Deborah: You’ve got the right attitude. And the pollution is clearing up. I mean the earth is, is healing itself. There’s dolphins in Venice, in the Grand Canal and swans that haven’t been there for, you know, centuries. 

Gloria: And you know, now the air much, much better. 

Deborah: Yeah. 

Gloria: I know. The sound, the pollution sound pollution. It’s nothing anymore. 

Deborah: We have to learn from it. We have to learn from it, Gloria.

Gloria: You have to change. 

Deborah: Wake up. A big wake up call. 

Gloria:  Big wake up call. I wanna understand like that. Don’t change. Because I’m changing for couple weeks, couple months. I don’t know how long it’s gonna be this situation. And then after that, do your part. Change. Help. Help each other. Help the world. Help the earth. Help the animals. Do your part. Now we need to protect old people. We need to protect ourselves. Then start to keep these in your life. We are so vulnerable. Don’t forget. 

Deborah: I’m thinking about writing an essay that says,  “I Risked My Life for a Banana.” I want to go to the store for a banana.  Am I going to pick up a virus and get sick and die? 

Gloria: You know, it’s like, everything is true. By the way you talking about that. I said it doesn’t make sense for me. I was like okay I need to do my part. I cannot go like I cancel all my old people to go to work. I don’t contact them. And then I want to protect my time. Then I went to the supermarket ten days ago, eight days ago. It was crazy. Still crazy. Everybody was still working. Not that much. I think stay at home order was a day before and I went to supermarket. I said, oh my God. Okay. Everybody decided to go to the supermarket. Was hundred people there. Everybody’s too close to it. Doesn’t make sense. I said, okay now I maybe got it. I hope not. And then I said, okay, let me see everybody. I check about 15 second things and breathe, you know, the thing that you can find signs that you can be worried about or not. And I said it doesn’t make sense, but it’s so like the government saying everybody’s saying is a new situation. We are going to make so many mistakes. We make mistake. The government make mistakes because we don’t know anything. We so fragile. 

Deborah: Thank you so much for sharing your opinion about what’s going on. I really wanted to know what you’re thinking.

Gloria: Thank you for calling me so I have someone to talk with. 

Deborah:  You can call me anytime, Gloria. Thank you. 

Final Wrap up/42:24

Gloria exemplifies the courage and positivity that I have seen in so many of the immigrants I have interviewed. Her ability to put gratitude at the center of her life, her ability to ask for help when she needed it for herself and her girls are what have carried her through the years. She combines grace and stamina, two qualities that endear her to all she meets and keep her psychic boat from rocking no matter what stormy days she might encounter. 

Intro to Gloria
Getting to the U.S.
Facing Reality
Earth Angels
Paths to Change
Missing Brazil
Future Dreams
The Gardner
Covid Catch Up
Silver Linings
Final Wrap Up