Yasmin Tomaz experience with different cultures gives her an unique view on the community of FHC


When freshman Yasmin Tomaz moved to Michigan around a year ago, she knew that her way and understanding of life would change drastically.

Born in America and moving to Brazil around the age of two, Yasmin has had an experience most young students would only dream of: living in another country whose norms and traditions almost seem alien to students here at FHC. 

“There [in Brazil], everybody is much more friendly and involved in everything and closer to each other,” Yasmin said. “Here, there are a lot of separate groups of people where people are like, ‘oh, I’m going to hang out with these specific groups of people,’ and it’s a lot more separate.”

When compared side by side, Brazilian customs and American traditions can have numerous noticeable differences even in some of the littlest things. Yasmin gave the example of the difference between greeting people here in America and back home in Brazil. 

In Brazil, the common courtesy when greeting each other is often more physical and affectionate even if they’re just acquaintances. Quite commonly, people will be greeted with a hug or a kiss on the cheek, and that’s a standard greeting over there. However, in America, the typical greeting is simpler and less bodily involved with a common greeting of either a wave or a handshake. 

Yasmin also pointed a finger at the difference in party styles between the two cultures, or more specifically, the lack of huge celebrations here in America. “In Brazil, we find any excuse to throw a party,” Yasmin said. 

“In Brazil, we find any excuse to throw a party,”

— Yasmin

Whether with family or friends, Brazilians are notorious for their extravagant and long-winded parties. Holidays and weekends, nothing can save them from the bug.

The most acclaimed yearly celebration of all is Carnival, an awe-inspiring and spectacular staple of Brazilian tradition and celebration that earned the distinction of “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Carnival is a five-day festival preceding Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent on the Catholic calendar. It includes samba dancing, colorful costumes, lively street music, and world-class parade floats which attract millions of tourists each year to celebrations. It’s classed as one of the largest and rich celebrations in the world.

“I never actually went to the big carnival parades in Rio, but we did our own celebrations. We had a Carnival celebration in our city because every single city celebrates it a bit differently,” Yasmin said.  “It’s the same general idea, but every city has a different custom of celebration.”

But Carnival isn’t the only holiday that brings fond memories of Yasmin’s family.

One fond story Yasmin has about her family is about the time her father dressed up as Santa to surprise her sister and give her little sister the best experience of her life; he did something incredible.

Since her Dad worked as an engineer and was constantly climbing staggering heights to fix machines or buildings, he had a lot of experience with rappelling, so he set up rappelling gear on the top of their building—which was around three stories high—and in a Santa suit, rappelled off the side of the building to give each kid a present.

“He climbed down the ventilation space, jumped through the window, and came out of the house,” Yasmin said, “and [he] said, ‘What happened?’ and my little sister went ‘You missed Santa!’ It was so cute.”