I am excited to introduce a mom who moved to Charlotte from Venezuela in 2000 not speaking the language and 12 years later is an IT specialist at one of the fastest growing companies in Charlotte. I am blown away that Gimar DiFronzo Soul could just pick up and move to a foreign country, attend college, learn the language, get married, start a career and a family without blinking an eye. That is awe-inspiring and something not many of us can claim. Gimar is an amazing working mom who juggles career and family with grace and ease. She is half Italian, half Venezuelan with a Canadian husband. Her international flair comes through in her love for life, friends, family and fun!
Gimar’s Smarty Mom Stats
Married to: Shawn
Mom of 3 kids: Coryn, Nicolas, and Natalie
Years in Charlotte: 12
Alma Mater: Queens University of Charlotte
Occupation: System Analyst
Smarty ‘hood: South Charlotte
Please meet Gimar!
When did you decide to move to Charlotte from Venezuela?
I decided to move to Charlotte in May of 2000 and was actually living here three months later. It is amazing how fast you can act on something when it’s only you.
What was the biggest adjustment for you?
It was awful to go out with people, only to not understand a word they would say. When they asked questions, I answered with anything that came to mind, and that usually wasn’t the answer they were expecting.
I also had to learn how to simply say hello. Venezuelans HUG and KISS, are loud, and our personal space is a lot smaller (if we even understand the concept of personal space). Americans sometimes hug, but almost never kiss. So at the beginning of my journey, a lot of people got many unexpected hugs and kisses (on the cheek-just to clarify) from me. It took me a while to get this down, but I learned. I think I got the personal space issue resolved too; so please don’t be afraid to say hello to me now.
I am still working on being quieter and that’s still a challenge, especially during Latin girls’ night out.
Not to be embarrassed is the key, the big adjustment. There is always going to be something you do differently, you mispronounce a word, you give someone a big hug instead of a hand shake… just smile!
What is the best part about living in Charlotte for you?
It is safe. It is extra important to give my kids that sense of safety. I almost don’t think about it anymore, but being able to walk on the streets, go to a park, a playground without having to worry about them not being safe, it’s invaluable.
What do you miss about home the most?
It can’t only be one thing! I have to say I miss my family and friends, of course.
But the beaches and the weather are a close second. I miss my 45-minute drives to the beach to enjoy 80-90 degree weather any time of the year. There is nothing better than drinking coconut water from a fresh coconut and eat an empanada! That’s a perfect day.
What is the biggest difference between moms from Venezuela and moms from the states?
In Venezuela kids live with their parents, in the majority of cases, until they get married. So, you graduate from high school, you stay home; you finish college, you stay home; and then you move away when you get married. You are definitely well over 20 by the time you have your own place.
I can’t think about the day my kids go to college and leave home. I might not let them go!
I have a Venezuelan friend that says: “I will just rent an RV, retire, and just follow them everywhere.”
Favorite lunch spot sans kids?
Favorite place to score kids clothes and shoes?
Gap, Shoe-In, Nordstrom Rack.
Favorite place to take the whole family to dinner?
Buca Di Beppo by Carolina Place Mall.
For the family – “Madagascar 3”
For adults – My old time favorite is “Life is Beautiful”
Best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
I like birthday parties that host the kids and the adults, so that the entire family can have a good time. The invitation has a start time, but not an end time and the kids are running around and the adults are hanging out. Believe it or not, this is actually how kids’ birthday parties usually are in Venezuela and probably in Latin America in general. They are a lot of fun, but way too much work for the host (ess)!
This is why I chose Sky High for our last birthday party. The kids loved it and I didn’t have to spend months planning.
Favorite Smarty phone app?
A few weeks ago, I downloaded Grocery IQ. It really helps to manage your grocery list. I know it’s really boring, but seriously you can share it with your husband, roommate, anyone that might help you do the groceries. Your list updates automatically with the changes the other person makes and vice versa.
I could not live without my…
Coffee, it’s what keeps me going.
Back by popular demand, we present the 2013 Smarty Awards! It’s your turn to shout out to your favorite local businesses. We’ve asked our Smarty Moms and Dads every Saturday for over FIVE years about their favorite things to do around the QC. It’s time to give these businesses some much deserved recognition and let you, Smarty Charlotte, cast your vote. Click here to vote!