By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The International Club Rio (InC) is excited for a new year with a new president, Bonnie Kobert Harrison, and a new focus on higher profile events. The first of which was Ernie Maschner, a program manager with global engineering and construction company CH2M HILL, who last Friday talked about the progress that Rio was making in its preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), CH2M HILL is charged with monitoring a portfolio of over three hundred infrastructure and construction projects required for the games.
Mr. Maschner began by emphasizing Rio’s fifteen year journey from a city that was usually eliminated in the first round of Olympic bids to being the successful host. He noted that the transition itself marks substantial improvement in Rio’s facilities, administrative capabilities and security.
Mr. Maschner drew comparisons to the work going on in Rio to that which took place for the very successful Games in London last year. He noted that the infrastructure improvements were required to be legacy based and synchronous with Rio’s future development. “75 percent of the budget for the London Games exist in legacy, everything was built for a purpose … Rio says we’re going to do that too,” he added.
Overall however Mr. Maschner was keen to get across that although the task ahead was a challenging one, the general climate was one of optimism. He added that fears over the city’s transport and accommodation capabilities would prove to be unfounded, as was also the case in London.
“Mr Maschner is a dream speaker. He captivated the audience, provided interesting facts and information. We have invited him back to speak at our Evening Speaker’s Series in August along with a panel of experts,” Bonnie Kobert Harrison, President of the InC told The Rio Times.
The talk was part of the International Club’s general meetings, which every month aims to select a speaker at the forefront of happenings in Rio. The talks are just one of the events that the InC hosts on a regular basis.
The group is intended to provide a forum where expatriates living in Rio can meet and make new connections, and find a community. “Our main purpose is to help the foreign community to adapt and integrate into Brazilian Society,” Harrison added.
As part of a reinvigorated events schedule, the InC also plans to host an evening speaker series in conjunction with the Midrash Cultural Centre in Leblon. “We are revamping our line-up of speakers, both for the morning general meetings and the Evening Speaker Series,” InC’s events organizer Melissa Mello e Souza told The Rio Times.
As well as fundraising and evening events, the InC also has weekly ‘Cafezinho’ meetings that offer a range of functions; from welcoming new members, to providing expatriates with opportunities to meet with top English speaking professionals.
“We are hoping for a dynamite year with InC Rio, filled with interesting, intriguing events that will appeal to a broad public and promote the chance for expats and Brazilians to mingle, communicate and understand each other better!” Souza told The Rio Times.