Last February, I had an amazing experience to volunteer for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Staying there for more than 2 weeks, I got to know the importance of every one’s role and also passionate people from all around the world. As a volunteer myself who passionately worked hard as well, I would like to share my story and the experience I had at the Olympics.
To be honest, when I decided to apply for the volunteer job, I did not really give much meaning to volunteer work itself. Now I know how precious an experience it was to take part in a such an event as a volunteer. But at the time I signed up, I just thought it would be interesting to see the Olympics held in Korea and I wanted to experience something new. That was actually enough to make me want to apply for the job. When applying, I had to fill out the application they provided. There were several options that I could apply to such as broadcasting, medical services or spectator guide, but I have always been interested in the Journalism field and decided to go for that. I also thought I would have a better chance to see athletes right in front of me if I work in the press field as well.
What I Did
After having an interview for the job, I received job training several times but all of them were not really related to the press field. Up until a week before the Olympics, I knew I would be working in the press field but I did not know what exactly I would be doing. Finally, when I got assigned to a job as a Photo assistant, I still had no clue what I would be doing. It was only after the first day of my work that I got to know my position exactly. On the first day, I was told by my manager to go to the Olympic Sliding Centre where Luge, Skeleton and Bobsleigh events were happening. About 20 Photo Assistants gathered there and the manager showed us around the stadium. Before we got into the stadium we had to go through security. They did not even let us take a beverage in with us and checked our bags thoroughly. (It took so much time that after this day I never took my bag with me again.) Then she took us to the PVC (Press Venue Centre) which was located inside the stadium and one of the places we worked at. I still cannot forget the time when I first got into the PVC. It was full of busy people working on their laptops, who were mostly journalists or photographers from all around the world and I just could not believe that I would be working together with them. There were two main jobs we did as Photo Assistants. One job was working at the information desk in the PVC. We would give some information to photographers or journalists that they would like to know or lend lockers to them. The other was managing photographers. That was mostly about stopping photographers from leaning over the track so that the cameraman from the OBS(Olympic Broadcasting Services) cameraman would not be disturbed. Since photographers carried big, heavy cameras and other equipment with them, we gave them help whenever they were in need as well.
The job was pretty much the same all the time but it never got boring. It was obviously hard to stand out in the cold weather with only a few heat packs. However, there were many things I got. As a person who wants to work in the journalistic field in the future, I got so much inspiration working with and closely watching photographers and journalists doing their job with passion. I got to know a lot of amazing people there as well. I could not be happier to know the fact that at least I was helpful doing my job. This was the moment I got to know the importance of my role and also the moment I had pride.
Accommodation / Working Environment
I have been asked so many questions about the condition of my accommodations while I was in Pyeongchang. It seems like the condition varied from place to place. However, since I was really satisfied with my accommodation, I thought I have to mention it. During the Olympics, I stayed at a university dormitory in Wonju. I stayed with a roommate and I was provided with bedding, heat packs and unlimited bottles of water. The provided meals were nice and they even provided us midnight snacks. Everything was beyond fine. There was a small gym at the dormitory too. Also, there were always heat packs that helped us stay warm and snacks at the Sliding Centre. But the only problem was that we had to commute every day to and from Pyeongchang and the shuttle never came on time. We had to shiver in the cold every night waiting for the shuttle. We had this problem beginning on the very first day, and it never got better till the end, which was a bit stressful the entire time.
I remember one day when I arrived in Pyeongchang, before I started working, I had to visit the UAC (Uniform Distribution and main Accreditation Centre) to get my uniforms, accreditation card and all the other information I needed. The shuttle from the UAC to my dormitory in Wonju was supposed to come at 18:30, but when I got all my stuff it was around 3 pm and I just had to wait. I knew I did not have any other choice but to just wait for 3 hours. When time was finally up the shuttle never came. At that moment I found someone looking for people who were assigned to the Sangji University dormitory, the one I was assigned to. I went to her and asked what her plan was and she said she had been waiting for the shuttle for more than 6 hours, since the morning and all the other shuttles for other dormitories had come on time, but the one we needed never came. So, we would be better off to take any shuttle first, and then take a taxi from there to get to the dormitory. We did as she planned and we finally arrived safely at night. The funny thing was that when we arrived at the dormitory after we got through those hard times, we found out that we were roommates, in the same job position and we were the same age as well. We have become best friends since then.
The Olympic Enabled me to Grow Up.
There are a few things I learnt during the Olympics: to be responsible for what I do, to stay positive whatever happens and most of all, to value and cherish relationships with people. I had to endure big and small conflicts among people and it was surely hard to work late in the night or early in the morning. Still I learnt to appreciate every moment. It remains a beautiful memory, after all. On the very last day of work, when it was time for everyone on our team to go back home, we promised one another with tears in our eyes to meet in Tokyo, where the next summer Olympics will be held at. I hope I can keep the promise.
Those 2 weeks I spent in Pyeongchang was never a short time and it still gets me thinking. Even after the Olympics and returning back home, it took me a little while to get back to reality. The time was so precious. I still visually remember the PVC, the sliding centre, my managers, my friends I met there and the journalists and photographers. I remember the chatter I and my friends had at night after a long day of work. I also remember the photographers who would never listen to us whenever we said ‘Do not lean, stay back.’ The freezing cold and enthusiastic winter is over now and more than three months have passed so far, but I still remember and feel everything. I will never be able to forget the time and the memories. I would recommend volunteering for any kinds of international events to everyone who wants to be passionate and learn and experience something special when you have the chance.
Cho Aruem firstname.lastname@example.org
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