Published On: December 1, 2009

Brazil, a Second Home

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By Frank Spalla

When I first traveled to Brazil, I had no idea what to expect. One reason for this is that even with a prep school and college education, our South American neighbors had been a rare mention in my academic curriculum, a fact that has become increasingly curious. About ten years ago, when I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, my South American baptism, I actually felt a distinctly different energy upon landing. That feeling did not leave, but grew stronger, as the days and weeks passed.

The most important aspect of Brazil to me is that the people there are, for the most part, genuinely happy. Happiness is celebrated, and anything else, distinctly discouraged. In the United States, aggressive competitiveness, conflict, self-aggrandizement, and obsession towards personal gain, have all become American hallmarks.

If you want proof, place two television monitors side by side, tuning one to Brazilian TV, such as Globo, and the other to practically any major US channel. The differences are striking. The Brazilian content will contain smiling faces, people enjoying each other’s company, cooperation, spontaneous group singing (like the North Americans did in the old movies), and warm, happy camaraderie. The American content will be rife with the aforementioned characteristics, including heightened interpersonal conflict, aggression, a lack of cooperation, and an overwhelming obsession with the superficial (such as “star” status and aesthetic perfection).

When an American travels to Brazil, he or she typically notices a feeling of relief from these complications and is glad of it. It is much easier and natural to simply enjoy life in Brazil. I do not claim to know why this is, but I have spoken to enough people with very similar experiences to know its truth extends beyond my own journey. In Brazil, I worry far less, smile a lot more, and have much more fun, regardless of what I am doing. The Brazilian word is “tranquilo”, and it’s perfectly fitting.

During the final days of that first trip a decade ago, I determined that I would establish a business which would allow me to live part or full time in Brazil. It made sense to enjoy my life the way Brazilians did. If it is easier to smile in Brazil, then I would find a way to be there.

Upon returning to my home in Florida, I created a company called TransForma. Like the name says, the goal of my company has been to transform people’s lives by establishing an extensive recruiting network. We assist Brazilian and non-Brazilian professionals with employment opportunities in Brazil and the US.

Last year, as part of my initiative to establish relevant business contacts in Brazil, I joined the Brazil-Jacksonville Alliance of Jacksonville, Florida, where my company is located. The Brazil-Jacksonville Alliance of Northeast Florida is an organization designed to stimulate commerce between North Florida and Brazil. Our current goal is to develop trade relationships with the southern region of Brazil. We also unite local professionals and businesses that have interests in Brazil and are involved with the educational development of language and business relations of local students as well as business professionals.

Recently, the Alliance succeeded in establishing a Sister Cities relationship between the City of Curitiba and the City of Jacksonville, Florida. The Jacksonville Sister Cities Association embraced our idea and assisted in the finalization of this relationship. For the official signing of this Sister Cities relationship, we invited Curitiba’s Mayor, Beto Richa, to attend the ceremony in Jacksonville. The Alliance website is:

As the president of a company that helps Brazilians and brings me to Brazil, I am delighted to discover an English-language website in Curitiba, a place known throughout your beautiful country as the City of the Future.

Frank Spalla is an American who spends as much time as possible in Brazil. The website of his company is Frank can be reached at

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