Monday, February 22, 2010

Hometown paper gets the word

the Olympics excitement in Issaquah, Washington. Almost all the facts about me are correct, except that I was chosen to represent volunteers by Village Support Services, which was selected for this honor by VANOC admin.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What if we keep on smiling?

Back home in Washington State, where it appears to be spring. The forsythia are blooming. What a disconnect from winter time in Whistler.

It occurs to me that I will no longer need to be on the look out for lost looking people, or to keep half an ear open to conversations around me, to offer direction and answer questions.

I wonder about this transition on a larger scale. What if all my fellow 25,000 volunteers continue to extend themselves to others once they go back to their lives, continue to smile and make eye contact with strangers? If we did, our experiences at the Olympics could touch the lives of the broader community.

Last day in the SSOC

After a week off, and a week of seeing Olympic events and Whistler village wanderings, I once again set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. Getting up in the dark in a quiet house, putting on the volunteer blue clothing one last time. I walked to the neighborhood bus stop under the clear starry night sky. This time of night is one I have enjoyed for its quiet beauty.
After transferring to the Games Express bus at 5:15 a.m., all is not quiet any more. There are five members of the Czech Republic luge team and one from the Slovakia team on the bus. Going home after a big night out in Whistler. A couple of them are slumped over. Their buddies are taking photos. A fellow volunteer asked how they did in their event. Answer: "Not so good." Probably why they 'celebrated' so hard.

Once in the Village and through security, I go over to Workforce check in to get my meal ticket. I mention it is my last shift (number 25). Gifts abound, including a 2010 participant medal, another Olympic pin, and a Vancouver 2010 Swatch watch.

Once in the SSOC, things are very quiet. we seem to be over staffed for the amount of work there is to do. We all watch the Olympic Network broadcast on tv. This network is internal to the Village, and presents in live time. There are also at least four stations, so multiple events can be broadcast live. (Quite a change from the pre-digested, USA focused presentation on NBC).

After my mid-morning break and a walk around the village to take some last photos, I came back to find the General Manager of the Athletes Village talking to people in the office. Turns out one of the reasons he came by was to thank me for all my work. Such recognition!
Supervisor Jenn was originally scheduled off today, but came in to say farewell. (At least that is what she said).
The afternoon goes by and I am wondering if they will let me go early, since there is not a lot to do. Kevin (manager) asks what time I am leaving. Hmmm. I begin to suspect something is up.
And sure enough, about 2:45 he calls us together for a presentation. The guys in Site have built a display case for the Opening Day scissors, which have been engraved. This one of a kind Olympic souvenir is presented to me. More photos, more smiles.
Some volunteers are surprised it is my last day. Time to go home to 'real life' and a real job.
Jenn says "I wish we could pay you to stay here."
Time to go before I cry.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How quickly things can change

We were standing in skiers plaza watching the mens snow cross event on the big screen. The Canadian was favored in the last flight, matched against two US boarders and one from somewhere else. One of the US guys fell, and then there were three. At the last minute the remaining US athlete pulled some air on the last jump and surged ahead to win by a board length. Celebration on tv and in the crowd that Canada got a silver.

We move on down the vllage stroll to another square, where the event was just beginning to be broadcast. The crowd was really excited by the chance for the Canadian. When the US guy fell, there were actually cheers. At that moment, Greg and I thought, ok, get ready to cheer big, since we already knew the outcome. And we did; you could actually hear our shouts across this very large plaza, right on the heels of the 'surprise' win.

Never knew Whistler had a time delay going on from one area to the next, but it was fun to experience.

Traveling around the World in Whistler village

Wandering around the village, serendipity is the key. Yesterday I saw the Czech Republic team, Norwegian fans, an athlete from the Ukraine, Body Miller after he earned his bronze in the downhill, Swiss house going crazy after winning the gold in the downhill.
The Swiss winner of the gold in long jump was walking around with his 10 ft Fischer skiis, posing. My daughter Adrien had her picture taken with him.
Street performers, visitors, athletes all combine for an exciting time just walking around.

Friday, February 12, 2010

traveling around the world at the Athletes Village

We are doing follow-up courtesy visits with the various countries who have already checked in. In one day I went from China to Peru. What a difference in the size of the delegations! peru=1, and China=hundreds. Both were happy with their accommodations.

My volunteer time is almost at an end, only one more shift. This is bittersweet. I have met so many wonderful volunteers and staff who have all been so committed to the spirit of providing a welcoming place to call home for the athletes. But now it is time for the games to begin; the opening ceremony is tonight.

Volunteers were all given the opportunity to see the dress rehearsal of the ceremony for free on the 10th. We traveled down to BC Place with our neighbors. Parked the car at Park Royal and took the bus to BC Place. The bus we chose also had my co-worker Vance and his wife. Small world.
The rehearsal was awesome and left us awestruck. The world will be impressed with all things Canada when they see this performance. It was very meaningful that the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of BC, and the mayor of Vancouver all attended the rehearsal and spoke to the volunteers.
I had a moment when I looked around the stadium full of 25,000 people. Assuming half were volunteers, the fact that I was selected to represent this enormouse work force at the ribbon cutting was humbling.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Athletes abound

Athletes are everywhere in their colorful coats. Some carrying bags, skis, and who knows what.

Our activities in the Support Services area reflect their needs;
- lost black backpack in transit from Vancouver airport, very important, has all the timers for a team
-breakers keep tripping in the laundry center, no power to run washers (well that's because the attendants plugged in non-authorized space heaters, duh)
-please come take all the furniture out of one of our rooms (no wait, 2 hours later, we didn't mean it, put the furniture back)
-the keys don't work (guests put keys in lock, but door doesn't open. Key specialist arrives, puts in key and turns handle. amazing, the key works now!)

My favorite: the mascots have arrived in the NOC tent, can you please arrange for transportation to the work force dining tent? (Me) Is Muk Muk with them? (caller) no, he is back on Vancouver Island. (Me) darn it. I will contact Logistics to get you transport.
Later, it turns out the transport went to the welcome center, and the mascots had to walk into the village. (I was sorry for the miscommunication, but couldn't help but wonder if Quatchi could use the exercise).
On my way back from trying to meet up with the delegate from Kryzygstan, I got to do a high five with Quatchi and Sumi.

Fun, yes it is fun.