By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the final hours of 2015 tick down, we take yet another look over the past year and review some of the most noteworthy stories of foreigners – aka ‘gringos’ – doing interesting things in Rio. This is now the sixth year in a row we have created this most unscientific list, and it is by no means a ranking, or an exhaustive inventory, so we apologize in advance for anyone missed.
History may look back on 2015 as the year Brazil unravelled, from unprecedented political quagmires and corruptions scandals, to economic combination blows that have left the South American giant teetering. Still, the Olympics are coming in August and the weaker Brazilian currency makes Brazil more appealing to foreigners – and many are doing very interesting things here.
1) James “Jimmy” Story
On June 25th James “Jimmy” Story arrived as the new Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, just in time to celebrate the July 4th holiday and poised to stay in Rio through the 2016 Olympic Games. Before arriving, Mr. Story has served as Political-Economic Chief and Deputy Principal Officer in São Paulo, as well as the Regional Environmental Affairs Director for South America based in Brasília.
2) Jonathan Dunn
British Consul-General, Rio de Janeiro Mr. Dunn arrived in 2014 and made our list last year as well, but it was January 2015 that we were able to have our interview with him. His support, along with the UK consulate, of programs like the Try Rugby put him squarely on our list again. Before his current post, Mr. Dunn worked as Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Brasilia from May 2013 to July 2014.
3) Sanjeev Chowdhury
Canadian Consul General, Mr. Sanjeev Chowdhury arrived in Rio in October 2011 (and made our 2011 list) on a normal three-year rotation, and then had his appointment extended two more years to last through the 2016 Olympic Games. In addition, on March 26th, Mr.Chowdhury was chosen new Dean of the Rio diplomatic corps, after Venezuelan Consul General, stepped down for health reasons.
4) Joe Hewitt
Joe Hewitt has been on our radar since 2012 when we started reporting on the Street Child World Cup (SCWC). This year as Head of Brazil Office and Director of Communications of Street Child United, he helped inaugurate a community football (soccer) pitch and a playground in the Complexo da Penha favela in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone).
5) Tobias Hanbury and Craig Allison
As Chairman and President respectively of the Carioca Cricket Club (CCC), Hanbury and Allison took the club forward in leaps and bounds this year. In 2015 membership has increased by over four hundred percent and they hosted one of the largest tournaments the sport has seen in Brazil on their grounds at São Fernando Polo and Cricket Club (near Itaguaí). The CCC held monthly inter-club matches, traveled for several national and international matches, and also secured new sponsors this year, including The Rio Times.
6) Eric Alterman
Since 2011, American cellist Eric Alterman has lived and worked in Rio as a member of the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, a traditional symphony orchestra well known for touring and for encouraging new talents. A classically trained musician with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brandeis University and Boston University, respectively, packed up and moved to Rio to join the orchestra after finding an opening online, his first job working with a professional orchestra.
7) Dale Smith
A long-standing expatriate in Rio originally from New Zealand, Smith has been active in the Rio Rugby Club for nearly ten years, and recently opened the Tiki Hostel in the Cantegalo favela community (which sits behind Ipanema/Arpoador). The Tiki Hostel has hosted the first Morro do Cantagalo Jazz Festival earlier this year and is also hosting a New year’s Eve event which all proceeds will be passed through the rugby club’s charity activities.
8) Arif Noor
Canadian businessman Arif Noor earlier this year opened the OMG restaurant in Leblon, which offers a stylish lounge atmosphere with a specialized gourmet burger selection. Noor moved to Rio in 2012, and the concept for OMG was created in 2014 then launched in February 2015.
9) Lorraine Coolidge
In addition to opening the Discovery Hostel in 2012, along with Enrique Fuentes (from Chile) and Zion Fadlon (from Israel), Lorraine Coolidge (from the U.S.) also runs AtivoRio (Active Rio) which is a unique social sports network providing activities to anyone visiting or living in Rio. In 2015 they added regular women’s football (soccer) matches, as well as beach volleyball.
10) Jody King
British expatriate Jody King opened Favela Phoenix this year, an English-language school in Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela Rocinha. A tour guide, DJ and photographer, King arrived in Rio years ago, and this new endeavor launched serving sixteen students, offering daily English classes to the favela’s residents for free.