Susan Gobbo featured in Town&Style "Notable Neighbors", talks Mosaic Programs

notable neighbors

Mauricio Gobbo’s company transferred him in 2008 from Brazil to Connecticut for what he and his wife, Susan Gobbo, thought would be a short-term assignment. What started as a grand adventure in paradise, with jaunts to New England, Philadelphia, Boston and New York, was but a honeymoon. His assignment became permanent—in St. Louis. Susan, whose career in a São Paulo hospital was as a physical therapist in the ICU caring for cardiac and pulmonary patients, soon found that she had become ‘less than.’ “There, I was Dr. Susan,” she says. “Here, I was Mauricio’s wife and Laura’s mom.” (Since inquiring minds want to know, Laura, 18, graduated from Eureka High School, answers Susan, chuckling at the question.) Although Susan was studying English, people were condescending because of her accent. Her family and friends in Brazil didn’t understand, saying she had to be living a queen’s life. But many spouses who don’t integrate well end up returning to their countries, some leaving their partners as well. As her loneliness and frustration mounted at home in Wildwood, she started research that showed she was not alone: Like many professional ‘trailing spouses,’ she was depressed. When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t realize it. “I saw the problem, and I set out to solve it,” she says. She contacted the St. Louis Mosaic Project at the World Trade Center here in 2014. Accomplished and gregarious, she soon co-founded a meetup group for international spouses, among them physicians, lawyers and businesswomen in their countries of origin. They do everything from visit the botanical garden and art museum to learn how to serve on boards. There are more than 400 members. Susan also works side by side with ‘hometown girl’ Annie Schlafly, who founded a mentoring program for international women in 2017. This program also helps acclimate foreign-born professional women to the country and introduce them to corporate entities, not to mention familiarize them with the the Lou’s wonderful peculiarities (i.e., the requisite high school inquiry). At present, 17 groups are in force, each comprising five St. Louis mentors and an equal number of international women. There are five yearly group meetings, six one-on-one. On Oct. 15, 100  women enjoyed a girls’ night out at STL Foodworks. Other activities include yoga, an international book club, and Blues (yay!) and Cardinals (dang!) games. “We are from different parts of the world, but when we’re together, we speak the same language,” Susan says.

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