Day 5: Back to Business in Sao Paulo

R0000146Today, we hopped on the bus and traveled a couple of hours to Brasil Kirin, a large beverage company in Brazil. We were taught about the different products they produce, the history of the company, their process and how crucial a constant supply of water is. The company was started by an Italian family in the early 1900s and was bought out by Kirin Holdings Company, a Japanese firm, in 2011. The main point discussed was the issue of water. Brazil, specifically Sao Paulo, has been experiencing times of drought recently and at one point in time they had to shut off the city water for about 12 hours a day. Brasil Kirin bought a farm in the general area of their factory that had multiple springs on it. They developed this farm and cultivated a few more springs to run through it – this is where they get all of their water that they use in production. Using fresh spring farm water was interesting. Sustainability is key for Brasil Kirin; they even supplied water to the city of Sao Paulo at one point in time.

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We also visited Loga, a waste management firm that is contracted by the city of Sao Paulo to dispose of the waste that millions of people produce. They are responsible for about half of Sao Paulo – 6 million people, 1.5 million homes. They are undergoing a huge initiative to push the people of Sao Paulo to start recycling more. This is a huge issue – people are not aware of the waste they are producing here and are very hesitant to recycle. Currently, 95% of the waste goes to landfills, 2-3% goes to recycling and the rest is lost throughout the city. The crowded favelas are hard to work with and the term that is used to describe the city was: “Confused City.”

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Accompanying us on our company visits were two Brazilian high school students: Luis and Leo. In addition to visiting Brasil Kirin and Loga, we had a few hours of interactive conversation with the students on the bus rides. They are only 14 years old and juniors in high school (they go to a Brazilian high school and an American high school). They were extremely intelligent and knowledgeable of the government and current issues. Some of the things we talked about: they love Brazilian history, their favorite American food is ribs and Wendy’s, cost of living in Brazil and in various places in the U.S., they asked about the rivalry between A&M and Texas Tech, and we told them about what life is like in college (they plan on visiting and considering Texas Tech). One thing that we could not believe was that they had never seen snow. We asked about their perception of America, and they explained that they think Americans are nice overall, but are sometimes impatient and overly patriotic. We explained that Texas is probably the most patriotic place in America. Brandi called me out to make an example of me, and I had to show them the tattoo of Texas I have on my chest. They also love hip-hop and classic rock: Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith and most of all, Queen. This was an immensely important and eye-opening experience.

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To top off our jam-packed day, we went to a restaurant called Skyebar at Hotel Unique. This was a very high-end place (probably the nicest we have been to so far) on top of a hotel with a patio looking out over the entire skyline of the city. While conversing on the rooftop, we met some people from California. They were quite a bit older than us (they had children our age), but they were brand ambassadors for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This made for some interesting conversation with extremely nice people. From large companies to interacting with Brazilian students and meeting fellow successful Americans – we had a blast!