BYU students guide spectators through Rio Olympics

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These students knew they wanted to return to Brazil one day, but they never thought they would be able to see the Olympics in Rio while serving the people they left behind.

Johnny Neu, an information systems major at BYU, is currently in Brazil on an internship with NBC.

“It’s a little crazy down here with the Olympics,” Neu said about being in Brazil.

Johnny Neu all geared up to be a host at the Olympics in Rio (Vinny Patton)
Johnny Neu is a BYU student currently working as a host as an intern for NBC. He’ll be taking NBC clients to Olympic events in Rio. (Vinny Patton)

Vai Sikahema, an NBC reporter and former BYU and NFL football player who also happens to be Neu’s stake president, suggested that Neu look into signing up for the internship. Neu served in the Rio mission, where he learned to speak Portuguese. Sikahema said he has met a lot of BYU students over the years as he’s covered the Olympics.

“Kids come from BYU because they’ve got unique language skills,” Sikahema said about interns.

Neu is interning as a host, using his knowledge to show NBC clients — such as executives from McDonald’s, General Electric and Visa — around Rio and taking them to Olympic events. Sikahema said Neu’s job is one of the prime positions and Neu probably got it because of his knowledge of the language, culture, land and history.

Before each Olympic event, Neu has to study up on who’s favored to win and how the games work. He’s also been studying up on Brazilian current events, such as the impeachment of Brazil’s president and the Zika virus.

Two other BYU students, Jonathan Engle and Alex Evans, are going to Brazil with Community Collaborations International and the Leadership International Volunteer Experience (LIVE) Olympic Project. While there, they will do service projects and take youth from poorer areas in Rio to the Olympic events.

“A lot of people in those situations never have an experience like that…it’s not even comprehensible, and this is something that’s happening practically in their backyard,” Engle said.

The goal of the trip is to help give the youth from these poor areas a new vision.

Johnny Neu hang gliding over Rio where he will be taking NBC clients (Johnny Neu)
Johnny Neu hang glides over Rio where he will be taking NBC clients. (Johnny Neu)

Evans said he is excited to see the Olympics. He’ll be taking a group of youth to the Olympics about every other day. He’s excited to make a difference.

“I already wanted to go to the Olympics, and now I get to serve people while I’m there. It doesn’t get better than that,” Evans said.

Neu, Engle, and Evans will, in a way, represent BYU for the next month at the Rio Olympic games.

“I found this opportunity to go and help some people who don’t have the [means] to enjoy coming to the city, and I think that just makes me more excited,” Engle said.

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