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Life in Sao Paulo

An introduction to the city, courtesy of the Lonely Planet

São Paulo is a monster. Enormous, intimidating and, at first glance at least, no great beauty. It’s a difficult city for the traveler to master and one that may not seem worth the sweat. Even the most partisan Paulistano – resident of São Paulo city – will rail about the smog, the traffic, the crumbling sidewalks and the gaping divide between poor and rich.

But in the same breath they’ll tell you they’d never live anywhere else. Let them guide you to their favorite haunts and the reason for this will begin to unfold. Maybe they will introduce you to the city’s innumerable art-house cinemas and experimental theaters. If they’re gourmands, you’ll focus on the smart bistros and gourmet restaurants that make the city a world-renowned foodie haven. If they’re scenesters, double up on espresso before embarking on a tour of raucous underground bars and the 24/7 clubbing scene. Whatever pleasures you might covet, Sampa – as the city is known – probably has them in spades.

This fertile cultural life is supported by Brazil’s biggest and best-educated middle class and further enriched by literally hundreds of distinct ethnic groups – including the largest community of people of Japanese descent outside Japan, the largest population of Italian descendants outside Italy and a significant Arab community fueled mostly by Lebanese and Syrian immigration. There are one million people of German stock, as well, sizable Chinese, Armenian, Lithuanian, Greek, Korean, Polish and Hungarian communities; and, most recently, growing numbers of Peruvians, Bolivians, Haitians and Africans. São Paulo also has the largest openly gay community in Latin America.

An estimated 20 million people live in greater São Paulo, making it the third-largest metropolis on earth. Besides a dizzying avalanche of first-rate museums, cultural centers, experimental theaters and cinemas, Sampa’s nightclubs and bars are among the best on the continent (15,000 bars make for one hell of a pub crawl) and its restaurants are among the world’s best. Its relentless, round-the-clock pulse – a close cousin of New York or Tokyo – can prove taxing even for the fiercest hipster. Then again, it may just deliver the charge you need to discover one of the world’s great cities. Read more here.

Social sector in São Paulo

São Paulo is not only one of the biggest cities in the world but it has also become a reference in the social impact sector as a result of the inequalities it still confronts. São Paulo has to solve the problems of education, health, environment, and employment for a fast growing population of almost 20 million. One sector that has been traditionally important in Brazil to tackle such issues is the NGO sector. The number of NGOs has doubled between 1996 and 2005. Half of the staff of those institutions work in São Paulo making the city the biggest employer of people working in the social impact sector. Furthermore, during the last 5 years, multiple social businesses, accelerators, incubators, university programs and opportunities have emerged, leading to a unique social innovation ecosystem and hub in Latin America and in the world. During the program, participants will attend events, conferences, and workshops and interact with experts from across the social innovation field.

Life Outside the Program

Other than an incredible network of social entrepreneurs and changemakers, São Paulo offers an exciting cultural life ranging from intercultural cuisines to theatre, dance and visual art to traditional samba, live music and some of the most stunning street art in the world. If you like night life and nature São Paulo has more than 152 theaters, 55 cinemas, 90 museums and 54 parks and green areas.

Amani Institute in São Paulo is located at the historic neighbourhood of Bixiga, that has plenty of famous tourist sites as Escadaria do Bixiga, Museu Memória do Bixiga and the Casa da Dona Yaya… As well as many recommended Italian restaurants and pizza places due to the great number of Italian immigrants that settled there since 1878.

On Sundays Avenida Paulista, one of the main arteries of the city is closed for pedestrians only and you can find local street artists everywhere. Walking down the same avenue it is possible to visit MASP (The São Paulo Museum of Art), that has the finest collection of European art in Latin America , the Japan House and also cultural centers as SESC Avenida Paulista (that has a belvedere with a stunning view of the city) and Itaú Cultural, that offers plenty of free activities during the whole week.

There is a great community of Amani Alumni in Sao Paulo who are happy to introduce you to their favorite aspects of the cultural and social life in the city and beyond. We are happy to connect you! See full gallery in Flickr

Enjoy the Country/City

For more information on life in Sao Paulo, you can also reach the Brazil SIM Sênior Program Manager, Mariana Freddi here.

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