My Olympic time in a blue jacket.
As Vancouver residents we were invited to witness the Olympics from the first row, but I wanted to experience the Olympics on a more personal level. Working behind the scene as a volunteer would be for me, the best way to feel part of the Games.
From the time I submitted my application, thru the different training sessions I received, I met other volunteers who were also preparing and making room in their life, to live their Olympic experience to the fullest. It was a once in a lifetime kind of moment – and I wanted to make the most of it.
I was offered and accepted a post at UBC Thunderbird arena, to work with a group of protocol and language services volunteers. UBC meant women’s hockey and two men’s quarter finals; and Hockey being my favourite sport – this was a great spot for my Olympic experience.
Along with the 12 volunteers on my UBC team, we began our Olympic training. First on the agenda was Protocol. Olympic Family Protocol, countries Protocol. Who knew how to address this prince or this king, or the head of this Federation, the Albanian Olympic Committee member, - who even knew so many people were involved with this??
And although many of the visiting athletes spoke English, interpretation by volunteers of many languages was to be provided to assist the press to communicate with the athletes. Russian, Mandarin, German, Czech, French.
We were trained, in our respective languages, to provide the required interpretation, right off the rink after the game, at the press conferences and to assist in the anti doping section.
I also received leadership training as I was to supervise a team of volunteers thru our Olympic adventure together and prepare ourselves to offer our visitors the best Olympic experience “ever”.
And then the Games we had waited for – seemingly forever – were finally here.
Heading to UBC on Feb. 13, early, way before my first shift – to make sure I’d find the right place – and walking up Westbrook Mall, you could tell something very different was happening at UBC that day.
From the many blue jackets of volunteers, to police officers from many different city forces, security was high. From the workforce check in area, to the practice rink and the main rink at Thunderbird – the place was all set for this big party.
And for the next 11 days, spectators filled the seats to capacity at every game, they chanted, they cheered, they did the wave, they had such a good time.
Behind the scene, where I worked in the Olympic Family area seating and lounge, we hosted our visiting dignitaries, the highlight of my Olympic experience.
We shook hands and welcomed the King of Greece, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, his family, entourage and many secret service agents, Lieutenant Governor of B.C. Mr. Steven Point, actor Donald Sutherland, VANOC’s John Furlong, Prince Albert of Monaco and the President of Finland, Mrs. Tarja Halonen.
It was our moment to shine, our moment to live an unforgettable experience.
My Olympic volunteer experience was outstanding. I met people from Vancouver and everywhere, people who spoke Russian, Swedish, Mandarin and German, people who loved sports, people who discovered how beautiful Vancouver is, people who came here to enjoy themselves and live an incredibly exciting Olympic time.
Century 21 In Town Realty