"Pursue your education and find your path in life".
Country of Origin: Brazil.
State of Residency: NSW. Favourite place in Australia: Manly, NSW. Upon arrival: Surprised by the Australian accent (She thinks it is not as bad as you hear it in movies). Photo provided by Narrativa
By Cristy Abela
Claudia Oliveira turned her passion for storytelling into a successful video production company - Narrativa. She believes anyone can start something new, creative, intellectually challenging, and fulfilling. Claudia gives back to the community through developing non profit video marketing campaigns. The road to success was not easy, but her strength and determination allowed her to overcome adversity.
Tell us Your Story
I moved to Australia to run away from the violence and stress of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. I was born and raised in Rio. As a teenager, I lived in London with my parents for 2 years. Later on, after I graduated in Computer Science in Brazil, I had a chance to do a PhD at London’s Imperial College where I met Roger. Roger moved back to Brazil with me. We married and had 2 precious girls, Clara and Raquel. We built good solid careers, bought a property, and had a wonderful circle of friends. We lived close to my family and Roger’s UK family would visit often. One day in the car, when the girls were around 3 and 4 years old, the four of us were held at gunpoint by two criminals. It was a terrifying experience and we were blessed to come out of it unharmed. After this ordeal, nothing was the same again. I started having adrenaline rushes, close to panic attacks in the traffic, walking in the streets with the girls and even at home. So we decided to leave Rio. Since Roger was a highly skilled IT professional, he quickly found a job in Australia. We got a sponsored visa, sold everything we owned, and took off. We landed in Sydney on September 2007, 10 months after the assault.
Once in Australia, we were in a hurry to buy a property and re-start our careers. After a year here, Roger started his successful consulting firm and I was working as a researcher and lecturer at Macquarie University. We had bought our home and had the all-so-Australian ambition to renovate. The kids started kindy in the suburb’s primary school. We made lots of friends within the Brazilian community, the school community, and professional networks. That’s when the unthinkable hit us: in January 2009, Roger was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The following 2 years went too fast. I stopped working as Roger underwent treatment. We renovated the house, we had loads of friends visiting from all over the world, we travelled, we moved to France for 3 months, and we lost Roger in January 2011.
In the turmoil that followed, I had the clarity that I wanted to start something new, creative, intellectually challenging, and fulfilling. So I got myself into film school, at Metro Screen (Paddington). It was the best decision ever. I escaped into a world of full time cinema. I wrote scripts, filmed, directed, acted, and did a lot of low budget production work. I met creative people and I acquired new skills. At the end of it, Metro Screen helped me find casual work in the industry in video editing. I would have gladly taken a 9 to 5 job, but I couldn’t leave the girls who were 7 and 8 years old at the time. The only option was to create my own job, and so Narrativa Video Production started (May 2012).
Today, Narrativa has grown into a real business. I absolutely love what I do: we help businesses create online video marketing campaigns. We are having our best year ever and I’m hoping to achieve great creative and financial results by the end of 2015.
Being away from home- The biggest challenge for my family is the distance from our extended family. The girls miss the grandparents, uncles, aunties, and cousins. It is expensive to travel, so we don’t go as often as we would like. I constantly campaign for visitors.
Different perspectives - Getting used to particular Australian’s way of doing things was a little bit challenging. A simple example is when my eldest, Clara, was invited by a friend at school to her first birthday party. I asked if I could bring Raquel as well. The answer was no! I was so mad! But a Brazilian friend of mine explainedhow children’s parties here are very organised and controlled events, and I shouldn't take it badly. This kind of tip is always very helpful.
Adjustable - Latinos are very adaptable. We have learned to live with less structure, less protection, less help. Without expecting much, Latinos are go-getters. We are also very used to the New World outlook, where everyone is new to the land, and we embrace multiculturalism.
Direct - Australians tend to be blunt, tell it the way it is. I’ve come to appreciate this as a good quality, but it was hard at the beginning.
Hospitable - Australians are very welcoming and friendly. When Roger passed away, I had cooked meals on my doorstep for a whole month. People were very generous. Also, I feel that fairness is a major value here. If you are good at what you do, prejudice won’t be a barrier to your progress.
Piece of Advice
Be innovative - Come with new ideas and skills. There are lots of opportunities for new enterprises here and a lot of flexibility in the labour market. If you are skilled you will find a place in Australia.
Look for help - My first source of information was the Internet. Australian institutions, businesses, and particularly Government have very informative websites. Opening a business, for instance, is very easy. There is plenty of step by step advice for “Dummies” online.
Embrace your community - The Brazilian community was a great source of information (i.e. Brasileiros em Sydney, Brasileiros na Australia). People from your cultural background who have lived here for a long time, can appreciate the newbie’s issues and doubts.
Uncover your true calling - I value education a lot, it has always been my greatest asset, and it is something I always carry with me. So I encourage my girls, and everyone, to pursue their education and find their paths in life.
In the next few years...
Claudia is planning to continue building Narrativa, and at the same time to maintain the lifestyle of the Sydney Northern Beaches along with her new partner Craig and her daughters. In the future, she is hoping to be here, trying to slow down just a bit to enjoy life as much as possible. If you wish to contact Claudia email us at firstname.lastname@example.org