Brazilians are familiar with green and gold—or at least green and yellow, the colors of their national flag. But they can find other reminders of home at UAB thanks to the Brazilian Student and Scholar Association. Ana Oliveira, one of the group’s leaders and a research associate in the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases, estimates that at least 50 Brazilian families live in the Birmingham area—mainly UAB graduate students, trainees, fellows, and scholars focusing on research and health care. “The opportunity to improve our English and the experience of getting to know American culture in a diverse environment are some of the big pluses of being at UAB,” she says.
The association offers opportunities for Birmingham Brazilians to keep in touch and speak Portuguese, Oliveira says, and the group often gathers to watch soccer games or dance and sing. “We also share our culture at UAB and community events, from the International Bazaar and Food Fair to presentations at public schools,” she adds.
Oliveira notes that Birmingham’s slower pace often surprises new arrivals used to the intense activity of Brazil’s major cities. But she says that Brazilian families quickly see Birmingham’s advantages, including lower costs and less traffic than they would experience in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.