With Rio preparing to host the Olympics in just 20 days, a class of Cal State East Bay students decided to feed their curiosity about the city by planning a trip to Brazil to study the games.
The trip, which came out of an idea by the students’ sociology professor, Sukari Ivester, aims to study what the massive event is doing for the lives of the local people. Ivester previously studied the impact of the 2014 World Cup, which was also held in Rio.
“The infrastructure definitely did run into some big problems,” Ivester said. “There was a lot of talk wondering, ‘Will Brazil be ready for these big events?’”
Economist Mark Spiegel has also done research on mega-events like this, and found out that they cost a lot more than they’re worth.
“The economists come out and we scream about it, but people think we’re boring so they don’t want to hear it,” Spiegel said. “People just think it’s exciting to have the Olympics.”
But research isn’t the only factor driving the students’ excitement for the trip. Cynthia Martinez, one of the 20 students who left for South America last week, said she’s most excited to see the culture of Brazil, including the music and language.
Fellow student Charles Watkins echoed the same sentiment.
"I’m excited, I’ve never been outside the country before. I think it’ll be very eye opening to see how other people live in other parts of the world," he said.
Ivester said that previous events in other countries end up “feeling like a big tourist show,” and hopes that the same isn’t true for the upcoming games.
The students, who are expected to return in mid-July, said that they are planning to visit the Olympic Village, the slums of Rio as well as the local people, in order to properly take in the sights and sounds of Brazilian life.