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Parading back to Rio de Janeiro: the bookish and brainy

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A sense of personal mission often provides the unflagging energy needed to overcome the many obstacles to successful readaptation.

The gain reverts to drain, at times

Some returnees do get out their suitcases again. “The carioca’s tolerance with the pig sties made out of public spaces, the urban chaos, the noise and power outtages that I never experienced in the four years I lived in the US and that still occur too often,” bring doubts to mind, admits Robson Coccaro, a musician.

Carolina Griggs came to Rio after completing a Columbia University masters in public administration, science and environmental policy, but was quickly disappointed. “If you want to work in government you have to take an exam, but at the same time there are many people working with no qualifications. The model isn’t transparent,” she points out. “In New York they post jobs on sites with the needed qualifications. If you send your resumé and it fits, they interview you twice and you have a job.” It’s time, she adds, to get politicians out of public administration; otherwise, the result is “the absence of integrated planning and poor-quality public service.”

While clientelism and bureaucracy are sources of frustration, there is also welcome progressiveness. Coccaro and his American partner Sean Gibbons returned in part because of the bad US economic situation and in part because of beckoning prospects here for their TocaEvents events design and production company. But they came foremost because otherwise they couldn’t have stayed together. Brazil gives out permanent visas to foreigners in an officially sanctioned same-sex “stable relationship” – while this is still rare in the US.

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