By Julia Melim

Brazilians feel at home again during the New York City version of the Brazilian Day, which happens every year and attracts Brazilians from all over the U.S. remembering what it was like to feel as though we are not foreigners anymore as Times Square fills up in a wave of yellow and green, the colors of Brazil. This year (2014), Serginho Groisman hosted the popular party with performances by Luan Santana and the group Exaltasamba. “The Brazilian Day in New York is the biggest Brazilian Day in the world that unites the Brazilian community, it’s bigger than Tokyo, Lisboa and Madrid,” says Serginho Groisman.

At the same time Brazil celebrates its independence Brazilians who live abroad celebrate their independence from their home country. It makes one wonder who are those brave people who left their land behind, who made sacrifices, who chose to be away from their friends and family in hopes for a better life. Imitating Columbus who ventured in a far away land where he couldn’t predict the outcome, Brazilian immigrants come to the U.S. every year with different expectations, from various backgrounds, leaving their lives behind and diving into the unknown.

“Brazilians have one characteristic in common: their love for life and their strength to keep fighting; we’ve learned how to survive under any circumstances,” says Serginho Groisman. There isn’t one day I don’t think about my home country and wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t left. I came to the U.S. after receiving a scholarship to go to an American University, which seemed like a dream come true. Eight years later, after missing many birthdays, weddings, and graduation parties I began to feel the weight of my choices and realize the price I had to pay for my dreams. I know many other Brazilians must go through the same thing and wonder what their life would have been like had they stayed in Brazil.

“Being away from your country is very hard, you have to be a true warrior to face all the struggles and hardships you’re going to find,” says Pinha from the band Exaltasamba. However, every day I choose to stay in the U.S. and continue to work hard for my dreams. One part of me feels like it’s too late to turn back, as if I passed the point of no return. Yet, another part of me appreciates all my accomplishments in this foreign land and feels that going back would be the same as giving up. And still another part of me feels guilty I’m not in Brazil to see my brothers growing up, to comfort my grandparents or to go shopping with my mother as she turns another year older. I think about all the Christmases and New Year’s Eve parties I’ve missed year after year, all the friends that I’ve lost, and how this is a time that I will never get back.

“We are here to bring a little bit of Brazil to all the people who are so hungry to feel at home again and miss Brazil so much,” says Thiaguinho from Exaltasamba. Brazilian Day makes me feel at home, but makes me miss home so much more. It reminds me of all the reasons that make Brazil such a wonderful country even during hard times when we find a reason to laugh and we dance until dawn like it’s Carnival.

It’s a day that makes me proud to be Brazilian and proud of all the Brazilians who achieved so much all over the world. The day ended with an unofficial national anthem, “I’m Brazilian, I’m very proud of it, with all my love,” (Sou Brasileiro, com muito orgulho, com muito amor) sang by over a million Brazilians spread out through 6th Avenue from Times Square all the way to Central Park who came out to show their love for Brazil, regardless of how far away we are.

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