Paolo Brasko Ferreira

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Please explain what you do for living.

Currently I do three hundred things at the same time. I am a kind of work-alcoholic in a sense: I work full time for Westinghouse Electric company (for the past 20 years) as a Ph. D. Nuclear Engineer, I also work as part-time professor at Pitt University (Computer Science) and sometimes for Penn State (Mechanical Eng), During the weekends I help my wife in her business when needed (Party planner/execution), and if she ‘releases me’ then I go to my second house that I have been flipping on my own.

How important in your identity is being Latino?

Very important! First of all I try to get the best of the two worlds: the best things that I have learned growing in Brazil and the best things that I see here in America. Growing in one single place, you believe that a way of doing a task is the right way, but when you go to other places you see that the locals might have a different approach and this makes you question everything in the sense of “how can it be done better?” And this attitude makes you grow as a person, and as a professional.

I also try to show locals my Brazilian vision of how things can be done differently here too, so I give back my 2 cents for the American society when possible.  By the way, I used to teach volleyball for my community as a volunteer for 8 years, all year long, 3-month sessions, just to give very young kids the pleasure of playing sports for the fun of it. I had about 1000 kids throughout that 8 years, but I had to give it up to teach at universities…

Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?

Trying to show kindness all the time is important for me: Always saying good morning with a smile, hugging and kissing people in their bochecha (cheek), bringing a relaxing atmosphere to the work place, making jokes, and above all working hard every time. It shows for the natives that we are as strong as any other person in the world!

Brazilian food is also something that I like to share with other non-Brazilian friends to show them how diverse they are, show different ways of creating great dishes. Once in a while my wife and I provide dinner services to families that hire us to have what we call ‘Brazilian Dinner Experience’, where we serve about 10 small courses of typical Brazilian dishes while explaining what they are made of, their origins, etc. Would you like to try??? 

Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)? If so, can you describe a situation?

No I have not, but I believe that it is also because I do not give the opportunity of someone to mistreat me. If you have a strong personality (not meaning rude, just strong), people as they approach you already know that they should not mess with you. In my view, people that want to treat foreigners differently are normally weak and they don’t confront people that are secure of themselves. So my advice to any one is: A person will try to mistreat you only if you give them the power to do so, therefore don’t give them that, be true to yourself and these people will vanish from your life in no time.