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MY PRONUNCIATION IN ENGLISH

n 2004 I was happy to see my book Duzinda be translated into English and I went to the International Miami Book Fair to present it at the Brazilian Consulate stand. Due to some circumstances, I had to travel alone to this book fair. For me this adventure was difficult, mainly for being abroad. Nonetheless, the wish to be able to disseminate my work was greater, so I went. Although I was accepted at USP (University of So Paulo), to study English, as one of the disciplines required, my understanding of spoken English was very bad. This I had perceived during other trips abroad. I had had some conversation classes, in English, with a teacher called Clement a retired diplomat who had represented English Guyana in Brazil, in the past, and who enjoyed feeling like an Englishman and that gave me some strength to speak English. When I arrived in Miami, I had to solve several issues, at the Brazilian Consulate and at the Brazil-USA Cultural Center, which was the international foundation in charge of the event. Since I enjoyed the sympathy and good will of the Brazilians living there, I was able to solve, right away, all issues regarding the fair. Then, I had free time. So, I decided to go to the hotel reception where I was staying and asked for a city tour to go around Miami. I had already participated in a previous one when I went to the USA with my children, to visit Disneyworld. But, back then, I was astonished to be abroad for the first time and worried about my children a lot and did not appreciate the trip as much as I should have. To tell you the truth, I dont remember that trip anymore. The tour began early in the morning and lasted until late afternoon. I liked it. In the morning I was guided to the place where the tours began. As I arrived there, I stayed attentive since I was in a foreign city, speaking another language and by myself. I could see that the majority of travelers were Americans. When the people in charge arrived, I was one of the first ones to enter the bus. I was able to choose my seat and I chose the front seat. Not the one behind the driver. So I could see more, to compensate for my language deficiency. People began to enter the vehicle and to sit down. At a certain moment an American lady sat by my side, even asking permission
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to do so. Maybe because I am blond, she did not imagine me being from South America. After she found out, maybe she did not feel so threatened by the fact that it was such a good seat, so it was worth having the annoying company. Since I talk a lot, I manage to communicate with people, even in places where I dont speak a little bit of the local language. With much effort, I managed to smile and saw people smiling back at me. There since I knew a bit of the language, I started to practice. She began to jabber. I discovered then, that she was with her son, her daughter-in-law, her daughter and her son-in-law, on this excursion. Her husband could not come, due to last minute business obligations. The two couples were right behind her and she sat there, by herself. She lived in a small town, in a North-Central State. The trip to Miami was a dream she had always had. The sun, beaches and relaxation enchanted her. She had planned this trip during many years. For this reason, she came even though her husband couldnt. This was the first time she travelled without his company. She was probably a few years older than me and she was a housewife. She was not a cultured person. She did not know where Brazil was located. To show her where South America was located was a difficult task. I even tried to tell her it was below the Caribbean Sea, below Miami. As she found it complicated, she wrapped it up with a sentence: - Ah, I see, youre a Spanish-American, right? At the beginning I even tried to explain it to her, but I gave up and finally let her believe what she wanted. I thought about lifes irony. She an American citizen and I a Brazilian; as they say a cucaracha. Maybe its sad, but I know she judged me to be inferior to her. Pure prejudice. Indeed, I had Law degree and I had already visited Miami, in the past. I was there participating in a book fair as a writer. A Writer, something they value so much. Unfortunately, compared to us, they read much more and they have higher regard for literature. However, that American lady was nice and talking to her was both a joyful and agreeable experience. For her, it must also have been the same; otherwise, she would have changed seats, at the various stops we had. There were some empty seats left. We spent almost a full day sharing the same seat. She even worried about me after each stop, since she knew I was alone. Regarding our conversation, the most enchanting aspect was the fact that I was managed to communicate with a typical American, from a small American town. I think she understood my
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English well, which must be okay enough and I understood what she was saying, which meant a triumph for me. As the trip came to its end, as a habit of mine, I thanked her for her company. She, always kind, also thanked me, saying: - I enjoyed sitting with you. Mainly because nowadays, over there in my city, we have a lot of Spanish people. And theyre arriving more and more everyday. And we Americans are now feeling the necessity to speak/understand a little Spanish. And, today, I spoke with you in Spanish all day and I understood everything you said and you understood everything I said, too. That was wonderful! One could not imagine my feeling of disappointment THE END

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