After relocating to Buenos Aires, AkzoNobel expat partner Janaina Canova initially felt ‘sad and lost’. She soon discovered she was not alone.
A tough start
A psychopedagogue from São Paulo, Janaina had been working in her field for 20 years in Brazil when her family relocated to Argentina. “It was nerve-racking. I didn’t speak Spanish. I was moving to a new country with no job. I felt sad and lost. My two boys were also very scared to leave a familiar place,” says Janaina.
In the same boat
“Shortly after I arrived, I spoke to my consultant from Global Connection. She urged me to focus on learning Spanish, which indeed has helped me to integrate. Later, she also encouraged me when I began to reimagine my career,” says Janaina. “As it happens, I had discovered many other Brazilian women moving to Buenos Aires are unsure of what to do when they cannot replicate their careers here. As a result, many have feelings of emptiness and even depression. When you sit at home alone, it’s easy to feel cut off from the whole world.”
Birth of a business
Determined to build a community that can help other Brazilian spouses, Janaina and two friends created a business called Conversa Terapia (literally, ‘conversation therapy’). “We have an Instagram page with hundreds of members and a WhatsApp group to connect with others. We host regular events that will bring women together so they can receive the support and/or knowledge they need to feel more positive about life in Buenos Aires. Sometimes we just want to give people a chance to express themselves. Sometimes we might host a themed discussion or introduce a topic, for example, the importance of self-care.”
Spill the beans!
“Meetings are often held at the home of one of the partners but we might also gather in a Brazilian-owned restaurant, cafe or fashion-house. Our members only have to pay for events they attend and newcomers are always welcome. Like all Brazilians moving to Buenos Aires, their first question is usually: ‘Oh, where can I buy beans?!’” Janaina has also started to study cognitive behaviour therapy with the support of AkzoNobel. “Having this project has given me a sense of purpose in Argentina. The most difficult part of expat life is the beginning, when you know nobody and feel very vulnerable. I am grateful for the support I received at that time. Now I know it can make all the difference.”
Photo: a Conversa Terapia event in Buenos Aires