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Brazil: Sao Paulo’s unique tie to Japan makes tragedy personal

By Edy Bestle


Edy BEstle

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL — Like thousands around the world, I saw on TV the horrible scenes of the devastation in Japan, as a result of an earthquake and the tsunami.

As some of you might know, the largest Japanese community outside of Japan is located here in Brasil. There are approximately 1.5 million Japanese descendents living in Brazil, half of those living here in my city, São Paulo.

Most of them live in a neighborhood 2 miles away from my house called “Liberdade” (Freedom in Portuguese). There you can find restaurants, clothes, handicrafts and other typical things from Japan.

Liberdade, an enclave of Japanese Portuguese in the heart of Sao, Paulo, Brazil.
(Photo: Tony Galvez)

Each and everyone in my city is deeply concerned about what has happened in Japan. We all know someone who has relatives living there.

With the help of the rest of the world, just like it has recently happened in Haiti, they will soon overcome this terrible situation.

A traditional Japanese altar adorns a street in the Asian district of Sao Paulo known as Liberdade.
(Photo: Tony Galvez)

Learn more about Edy

Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Edy has been a world traveler since the age of seven. In the process, she mastered several languages including English, Spanish and Italian.

Her love of languages lead her to a speech therapy degree. These days, this divorced mother of three successful young adults, oversees her own business, an English school in Santos, Brazil. Located on the coastline, the school serves as an outlet for Edy to use her training as a speech therapist to teach English to such students as Brazilian business executives.

“In my country, although English is a second laguage, it is fundamental for doing business, especially in Sao Paulo where the international companies are located,” says Edy. “Not many of the business people can actually speak English.”

In addition to owning her own business, Edy plays on a volleyball league for women over 30-years-old and took up riding motorcycles. Already on her second bike, Edy enjoys the speed of the ride and is proud to have been allowed to ride the Interlagos race track, home of the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix.

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