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With no jobs available, Brazilians fleeing Summit County

Daniela Martins
Summit County, CO Colorado
Mark Fox/Summit Daily NewsBrazilians Igor Ferreira, left, and Joao Paulo Drewinski pack up their suitcases in their room at the Woods Inn in Frisco as they prepare to leave Summit County, Colorado
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SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado “-A month after arriving in Summit County eager to enjoy a winter working in Colorado’s high country, a cadre of Brazilians have begun heading home, disillusioned and broke.

“I’m not getting money here. It’s not worth anymore staying in the United States,” said Igor de Almeida, a 21-year-old student who had hoped to work at one of the ski resorts ” or anywhere, really ” on his J-1 visa.

On Sunday, he was part of the group of Brazilians who packed their few belongings, climbed aboard a Greyhound bus bound for Denver and began the long journey home to Rio de Janiero.



“All the money that I have now is for my passage to Denver and a place to sleep ’til my flight back,” de Almeida said.

His is a familiar story: Hundreds of Brazilian students were enticed to pay sponsoring agencies as much as $2,000 plus travel expenses to acquire the visas and gain work at the resorts, only to find that the slumping U.S. economy had dried up virtually every job opportunity.



Now, with each passing day, musical Portuguese is heard far less on the streets.

Alexandre Marques didn’t think twice when his money was gone. The 21-year-old student from Rio de Janeiro changed his flight to Jan. 10 and now is back home.

“Now I have some job interviews scheduled for the next week. I think it’s going to be easier to have a job here than in the United States.” said Marques. “This trip was not what I thought it was going to be at all.”



Out of the state

With little hope in the mountains, some of the Brazilian students decided to leave, but not for Brazil. They chose to try, as a last shot, getting a better opportunity in other states.

Allan Roitman is one of them. Tired of searching since Dec. 10, the 19-year-old student gave up last week headed to Arizona, although nothing is sure in a country swallowed by a down economy.

“I decidedto go to Arizona because my mother has a friend that works there, and maybe, if I have luck, I can get something in the same place,” Roitman said. “But if she tells me that there’s no work there, I will stay a week more in Summit, learn how to ski and then come back to Brazil.”

Even with a previous job experience in Snoqualmie Pass, Wash., a Social Security card and a fluent English ” he lived in the United States for two years ” Matheus Fierro struggled to find work before landing in Park City, Utah.

“Here in Park City, things are very complicated. I live with 10 Brazilians, and three of them still don’t have a job. Most people that actually have a job offer are working as temporary,” he said. “Now I have a very good job, but I thought about giving up lots of times.”

Roomates needed

Even for those who have the luck and luxury of work, the situation may start to get worse. Many share rent with countrymen, and when their friends leave, they find the cost of housing is prohibitive.

Andre Carvalho originally shared his house in Frisco with another 11 Brazilians, but the student from Vitoria decided to leave for Pueblo with a friend after seeing that there were no jobs in Summit County. Now he is still without a job and paying rent in both Frisco and in his new home.

“In Frisco there’s only two of the 12 that came together. Lots of them decided to leave to Brazil or to another place,” Carvalho said.

Bulletin boards throughout the county now have messages, written in Portuguese and English, seeking roommates.

The students who do have job are dealing with one more obstacle: reduced hours of work. After the holidays, many stores and restaurants began cutting worker schedules, resulting in smaller paychecks and more days off ” and less money to spend.

Daniella Mazzoni, a 19-year-old student from Rio de Janeiro who had worked previously in the United States landed a coveted job as a sales woman at Polo-Ralph Lauren in Silverthorne as soon as she arrived.

But offered few shifts, she couldn’t afford to stay.

“I was working very few days and hours. On Christmas week, I only worked two days. There was no way for me to stay like that” she said. “I even thought about moving to another city, but I realized that all the places are pretty much the same, so I came back on Jan. 1.”


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