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Two languages, two countries, one passion

After a successful career in Sao Paulo running 32 companies, Andris Nudelman decided to bring his family to Vancouver. Nudelman arrived in Canada in 2002 and since then he has been building and intensifying the business relationship between Canada and Latin America, specially with Brazil.
Andris was born in Sao Paulo and is a former Corinthians fan who now cheers for England’s Chelsea thanks to his grandson who lives in London. Since he arrived in Vancouver, this Brazilian businessman has been searching for his place in the sun (or in Vancouver’s case, in the rain). As a result, Nudelman is now president of the Canadian Council for the Americas, president of the Canadian Education Services Latin America, and president of Maple Bear Latin America, a bilingual school system, as well as holding many other international positions.
Nudelman sat down with Brazilian Vibe to tell us his incredible story during a long chat at his Vancouver home.
How did your story start in Canada?
I had a few private investments in Brazil, but I was sick and tired of the quality of my life in Sao Paulo, where we live behind bars. So, my family and I decided to come to Canada, or even better, to Vancouver. When I moved here, I still had some investments in Sao Paulo, but little by little, I simplified these investments and I just kept the more manageable jobs. I began to develop a network with people in the business circle because this is the most important relationship to have in Canada. In this way, things started happening and I can’t complain about it. I’m pretty satisfied.
How well did you adapt to Canada?
My family and I were at the perfect time in our lives when we moved here. Our daughter had been accepted to a university in Sao Paulo, but she was also accepted to UBC to study economics. Our younger son was eight years old and our older son also came, but today he lives in London with his family. The process to adapt was easy for us, but we needed time to relieve the stress from living in a big city like Sao Paulo.
Why did you decide to move during the coldest season in Vancouver, in November?
I wanted to feel the dead of winter because if I didn’t like this season I would have packed my bags and gone back to Brazil that very hour. We were stablished there, but little by little we made our lives here.
What are the differences and similarities between Brazil and Canada?
Both countries have a large territory, a lot of natural resources and a strong primary sector. However, the tertiary sector here, in Canada, is developed than in Brazil. Canada and Brazil have a great opportunity to share experiences. Nowadays, Brazil is the eighth biggest external investor in Canada and the investments between these countries aren’t unilateral, but bilateral. We are working a lot on this relationship and I’m glad to be part of this project.
What do you miss about Brazil?
We find everything here in Vancouver. We make feijoada, cheese bread, flour, guarana and pastel. What I miss most is a tropical climate, but each place has its culture, its values. If you are willing to move to a new country, you need to accept the pros and cons of the country. Here, in Canada, we have to accept that dusk is at 4pm in the winter, but also get sunshine until 10pm in the summer.
Why did you decide to invest in education?
When I left Brazil I was tired of the bureaucratic difficulties, so I had the opportunity to invest in education here because the only sustainable way to make Brazil grow is to improve the education system. The Maple Bear has 48 schools in Brazil and five in Mexico. All are focused on educating the elite. It is as important to educate the elite as the entire population. We offer the quality of a Canadian education, which is one of the best in the world, and we provide these methods for Brazilians, which is very rewarding. We always enjoy watching the development of our students.
What are the pros and cons of a bilingual education?
Usually people who are against this method are misinformed. I studied English for 15 years in Brazil and I didn’t actually learn anything until I traveled. When a child has this early contact with the language it is easier. Before the age of seven, the brain connections are being formed and by having bilingual knowledge the child has a better analytical capacity. Bilingual learning is a strong trend and is growing a lot. The parents who are able to provide this education should enroll their children in a bilingual school. The only drawback of this education is the cost. The schools need to have teachers with a strong proficiency in English, a large space for the school facilities and the same curriculum that Canadian schools require.
What are Maple Bear’s future projects?
We will continue doing what we do. Each year we add a new grade and the next year we are going to grade six. Maple Bear is based in Canada, but we don’t have schools here. We have investments and schools in many countries such as India, China, Bangladesh, South Korea, Turkey, Vietnam and Morocco.
Do you have any advice forA Brazilians who have moved to Vancouver?
People have to develop and dedicate their time to their network. We always see Brazilians complaining about jobs and saying: “I’m here and I can’t find work“. An immigrant has natural difficulties but the best way to be successful is to build a network of contacts. A typical job requires you to work eight hours a day, so if you don’t have a job, why not look for a job for eight hours each day? Most people prefer to spend two hours in front of the computer sending resumiss. Don’t do it. You should invite prospective employers for a coffee and even visit the companies that you are interested in working for. That is the way to do it.
Photo by: Lucas Socio

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