By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Moving to a new country very often has its ups-and-downs and can prove to be stressful when one is faced with the task of settling into a new community. Fortunately, Rio de Janeiro offers a number of well-established societies, on hand to help expatriates find their feet and feel part of their new surroundings whilst staying connected to their roots back home.
The American Society (AmSoc Rio)
The largest of the expatriate societies is AmSoc Rio, which was founded in 1917 and now boasts over 500 members. Aside from celebrating traditional American holidays such as Thanksgiving and Halloween, the club organizes regular Happy Hours, an annual Easter egg hunt and an end-of-the-year eggnog party.
There are also themed parties such as “curry night” and the recently successful cocktail evening at The Yacht Club. In addition, the society publishes a weekly community newsletter via email that helps keep members up-to-date with news and future events.
Members also have the opportunity to be involved with local charities. Society president David Huffard explains “[we hold] two main raffles during the year and donate all proceeds from these raffles to several charities.”
Single membership costs R$100 and family membership costs R$150 per year with some other price options and early enrollment discounts. For more information about the calendar of events and how to join, visit www.americansociety.org.
The British and Commonwealth Society of Rio de Janeiro (BCS)
In operation for more than seventy years, The BCS has over 400 members and manages events throughout the year in the spirit of British traditions, ensuring that its members do not miss out on the festivities of their native land.
According to 2011 president Jack Woodall, “The Queen’s Birthday party is our most successful annual event, and in 2012, as it’s the Queen’s Jubilee year, it will be an even bigger [celebration]. We also ran two successful benefit concerts for the victims of the January landslides in the Serra.”
Upcoming events, local news and views are also published in the society’s monthly magazine, The Umbrella, to ensure that members are kept aware of the latest community events. Membership fees paid before March 2012 are R$70 for a single and R$100 for a family per year. For a lifetime membership, R$700 single and R$1,000 for a family are available, visit www.bcsrio.org.br for details.
The International Club Rio (InC)
The InC, founded in 1965, is open to all foreign, English speaking expats, and now represents 165 foreign residents in Rio de Janeiro. According to club president Mary Pinner, “[The society] provides numerous opportunities for social interaction, development of friendships, charitable works including volunteer opportunities, and cultural tours and events.”
Furthermore, the club publishes its own guide book, “Rio Riches,” which advises members on the goods and services available in Rio, particularly those carried out in English, and any events directed at newcomers.
Aside from the many functions which are organized annually, such as the highly successful “Taste of Rio,” the InC actively supports a number of local charities that deal with education, sports, the elderly and disabled youth.
Membership with the InC costs R$120 per year (over 65’s pay half-price). New members can join via the website www.incrio.org.br, or at any of the InC meetings or events.
The St. Andrew Society of Rio de Janeiro
The oldest society in Rio is the St. Andrew Society, founded in 1906 for the city’s Scottish inhabitants. Society President James Frew states, “It’s not what we get out of it, rather what we put into it, to nourish the seeds of Scottish culture which were planted in Rio by expat Scots at the end of the 19th century.”
As part of their duties to the Scottish expat population, The St. Andrew Society marks important anniversaries such as the favorite annual Caledonian Ball, which was recently held at the Copacabana Palace Hotel and included Scottish expats from all over South America.
The St. Andrews Society also provides local relief if and where it can and was proactive in the donation of money to those affected by the floods in Região Serrana earlier this year. Annual family membership is R$100 and can be paid directly via the website www.standrewrio.com.br