A New Phrase for Brazil

By Clara Prado

During the last few years, Brazilians came up with a new expression, and they used it in so many unlikely situations that sometimes it was tough to keep up. 

You leave work early so you can get home in time to watch your favorite soccer team on TV. You drive your car through the many large avenues of the enormous city of São Paulo. You’re cruising pretty fast, since it’s still early. But then everything stops. A traffic jam at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday. After sitting in the car for about 10 minutes with no movement you get your phone, take a picture, and post the photo on Instagram. The caption reads “Imagine during the Olympics”. 

Brazilians are so desperate to do a good job on hosting this major sporting event that we’ve started to pay even more attention in every little problem we can see or hear about it. Traffic stops for no reason; we run out of water or power; there are floods, riots and strikes that stop public transportation from running. Now, imagine during the Olympics! We simply didn’t want to be shamed!

However, pessimistic view aside, I think all Brazilians think they are blessed to live in such a warm country, both in temperature and its people. It’s just frustrating! When someone comes into your home, you want them to only see the good parts, the advantages of living there, and maybe even for them to feel a little jealousy of all your good fortune. You don’t want them to see that you’ve just had a fight with your husband, or that you spent money that you didn’t have to prepare a beautiful dinner, nor that you spent so much time cleaning your house that you didn’t have time to shower. And if that’s not bad enough, imagine during the Olympics!

The term was even immortalized with a song some time ago for another great international event, the Fifa World Cup! A country music duo caught a ride on the already largely legendary catch phrase to propel the band to even more fame. The song, called Imagine in the World Cup, talks about how all the hotels are full, traffic is bad, and how people’s English is not getting any better. 

It’s not that I don’t share the view of my compatriots. I too believed there was a chance we could not pull this off, but I felt compelled to take a more motherly approach, although I’m not yet one. When we see a baby trying to walk, we commemorate the first few steps and attempts, even if he stumbles and falls. Babies keep tying to walk, even after falling, partially because the people around them keep cheering them on. I don’t think I would ever walk if my first steps were met with disappointment and pessimistic views. 

I am well aware that Brazil is not a baby, but we are inexperienced in large events such as these. Unlike countries like the United States and Canada, we don’t have a gigantic market for spectacular highly structured events. We have had some concerts and festivals here and there, but apart from Carnival we haven’t had so much experience dealing with these many variables. 

Moreover, we may lack organization and planning skills, but I hoped some of our other assets make up for it, even if not entirely. Yes, most people don’t speak English, but as an English teacher I see a lot of people trying to learn. English teaching is fast becoming the profession to have these days. Hundreds of new courses are opening up, and people are going to classes. I have sixty-year-olds calling me to help with their homework on a Sunday! Doesn’t that count for something?

For the people that came to Brazil there were obvious reasons to be worried about how the event was going to play out, however I hope that when they saw a person doing everything they could to help them, or when people took an interest in and treated them like a rock star, or even when you realized that Brazil had much more to offer than you initially thought, think to yourself #imagineduringtheolympics! Not in a high school, C- for the effort way. If the baby is not yet walking you can’t say that he is doing a perfect job, he is not. We need to learn, and I’m hoping we will. Sometimes we only really learn if we fall a few times.