By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Living as an expatriate in a new country can be hard when faced with the task of settling into a new community. Fortunately, Rio offers a number of well-established societies to connect with other estrangeiros, and one of the largest of them, The American Society of Rio de Janeiro, has just turned 100 years old.
The current president of Rio’s American Society, or ‘AmSoc Rio’, is Mateen Thobani, who shares his feelings of helming the organization’s milestone. “It is an honor and responsibility to serve as President in this centennial year.”
For those unfamiliar, Mr. Thobani explains, “The Society’s mandate as set out in the by-laws is to promote good relations with our Brazilian hosts, celebrate American holidays, contribute to local charities, and assist Americans in distress.”
AmSoc Rio has around 100 current members and a much larger email list, as well as a full calendar of community activities and charity events they have been hosting since the organization’s founding in 1917. Thobani shares a little history.
“It’s amazing that a Society that started off with a group of American women in Rio who got together to make bandages for the war effort has lasted one hundred years after their husbands, sensing that the American community needed a formal organization to help maintain itself united, founded the Society.”
In the calendar of events each year, one of the most important for the society is American Thanksgiving, and AmSoc Rio has a history of putting together the largest in Rio de Janeiro. This year on Thursday, November 23rd, from 7-11PM the celebration will once again be at the Marriott Hotel in Copacabana.
Thobani shares, “To commemorate our 100th birthday, AmSoc plans to make this year’s Thanksgiving event special by having a live performance by American jazz singer Alma Thomas, serving wine with dinner, doing a slide show of photos from AmSoc events going back many years, and showing video clips of interviews of past presidents.”
As president this year, Thobani shares his goals for the organization on this 100th year mark. “By the time my mandate ends in December 2018 my goal is to leave a vibrant Society that puts on well-attended social, cultural and educational events, while raising funds for local charities and building up AmSoc’s capital base.”
Adding, “Key to the effort is the revival of the speaker series, having more frequent happy hours and social get-togethers, hosting a few cultural activities, organizing events and raffles to support charities, and increased outreach to Rio’s English-speaking community.”
To find out more about AmSoc Rio, visit their web site or Facebook group. Membership is open and they are always looking for new volunteers for their Board to help guide the organization. Upcoming events include their monthly Board Meeting on October 9th, a Pancake Breakfast on October 21st, and an Architectural Tour on October 28th.