EDMOND — Gabriel Rodrigues Marques Moreira and Danielle Cardosa de Souza had a long journey to Oklahoma from Brazil, and they arrived right in the middle of tornado season.
Gabriel, 19, and Danielle, 24, are working as camp counselors at the Edmond YMCA. They arrived in May and have been getting settled in while learning a little about Oklahoma's most feared weather events.
“It wasn't scary to me but to all my friends and family it was,” Gabriel said. “I always knew that Oklahoma was a dangerous place about storms, but that makes you prepare for it.”
Both visited Moore after the tornado. Daniell volunteered for debris cleanup along with her host family.
“I think people are so nice to be involved in helping everyone,” Danielle said.
Their jobs center on interacting with children who spend their summer vacation days at the YMCA's many camps.
Their native city of Belo Horizonte is in the mountains of southeast Brazil. The city is large, with about 5 million people and an impressive, modern skyline.
Still, there are plenty of differences. Fast food and banks are two.
“If you eat McDonalds in Brazil every day you are a very rich person because it's so much more expensive,” Gabriel said.
And while most McDonalds restaurants have a drive-thru in Brazil, banks with a drive-up window are few and far between.
“Oklahoma City is so different because it's so organized,” Danielle said. “The things here are more practical. I went to the bank in the car and I didn't have to leave the car to get money. That does not happen in Brazil.”
The counselors will remain in Oklahoma City through the middle of August. The kids who come through the YMCA's summer programs have been easy to work with, they said.
“They ask a lot of questions about our country,” Gabriel said. “Most want to know what we eat and what we do for fun. They seem to want to know most about what's different from their culture.”
Danielle has appreciated their manners.
“They are little kids but they are different,” she said. “The kids here are very well-behaved. Sometimes that is not the case in Brazil.”
Gabriel, who plans to continue his college education when he goes home, said the experience should help broaden their knowledge of the rest of the world. Neither had been to the United States before this summer.
“It has been a very good experience,” he said. “We hope to improve our English and there is a lot to learn by visiting another country.”