By Sarah Coursey, Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – Yankee conviviality in Rio translates to pancake breakfasts, races at the Jockey Club and trips to Brazilian vineyards. It means not having to give up Thanksgiving, Halloween and the Super Bowl, while enjoying all that Carioca lifestyle has to offer. The American Society in Rio de Janeiro is a blend of these two worlds, and an oasis for members of all nationalities committed to celebrating the social and intellectual benefits of being truly bi-cultural.
“The purpose is to bring the American experience to the community in Rio and all that experience entails,” enthused Inez de Mello e Souza, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the group’s Speakers Series Coordinator and Board member. What this means in everyday terms is Tex-Mex parties, potluck dinners, happy hours, sports events including softball and soccer, and kids’ events, just to name a few. On the intellectual front there is a Speakers Series which organizes talks on everything from economics to reflexology, offering variety for a very diverse group of members.
Inez’s background gives insight into the group’s focus. A native Carioca, she and her family lived in the US for 25 years before returning to Rio three years ago. She found the American Society while doing an internet search and has gotten involved at the highest organizational level. The inclusiveness of the group’s open door policy means that Americans, other foreigners and Brazilians alike are welcomed and encouraged to join.
For newcomers to the city, the Society is a bastion of calm and order amongst a sea of unfamiliarity. “When people land here, they don’t know that support exists or they don’t know how to access it,” added Inez. Simple things like finding a babysitter can be daunting. The Society offers a directory of recommended child care providers, for example. They also include links on their site to other service people vetted by members.
The organization is sensitive to the wide socio-economic spectrum of its members. Inez pointed out,” Some people are breaking up, and staying here because of their children, and want to know what job opportunities are out there. We need to reach out to them, so we make the events affordable. Then of course both wealthy families and individuals have their distinct needs, and we don’t want to leave them out, either.”
A good introduction to the group is their Ambassador Program. Each new member is paired with a veteran “ambassador” member, who acts as a sponsor through the first few months of membership. The role of the Ambassador is to ensure that new members are welcomed into the Society and get the most of what it has to offer. For members new to Rio, the Ambassador can also be a valuable resource during the process of getting settled in the city.
Upcoming events at the American Society include a talk by Dr. Peter Robertson, Associate Professor in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. Titled “Money, Banking, Economic Collapse and a New World Order?”, the event will be held on Monday, August 3 at 7:30PM at the Auditorium Centro Cultural IBEU. In addition, there are two Happy Hours each month: one in downtown Rio or Zona Sul and another in Barra de Tijuca.
For more information or to become a member, visit their website at www.amsocrio.org.
Correction: August 4th, 2009
This article was first published on July 28th with Dr. Peter Robertson’s incorrect job title.