posted on February 04, 2013 17:50
Hello everyone! Did you enjoy the Super Bowl? Most of us watched the Super Bowl streamlined live online. It was Monday morning here and we were invited to watch it on a big screen in a nearby hotel with some of the executives from the Special Olymipics International office. I am not sure the next time I will ever get to say that I watched the Super Bowl on a Monday morning with Dr. Timothy Shriver (whose uncle, President Kennedy was on a Super Bowl commercial) and retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo. What a great start to the day! The rest of the day consisted of cheering on athletes in their final full day of competition and attending a cultural event with performances by Korean singers. They danced and performed various musical numbers from popular musicals like Mama Mia. Here are some further reflections about the Special Olympics experience from some more students:
Alyssa: This trip to South Korea has been amazing. I have met so many great people. The athletes are amazing. Even if they don't speak the same language as you, they still want to be your friend. The friendship they give is unique because it is without limits. It is selfless and forgiving. Most of all, it is unconditional. The rest of us could stand to learn to give this same type of friendship. I feel so blessed to have met so many of these wonderful people. I have learned a lot from them in my short time here. Yesterday, I met an athlete that quickly became a friend. We had a wonderful conversation, and he teased me the whole time calling me "trouble" and things like that. It was great! He asked to take a picture with me and told me that I was very pretty, which surprised me, so I said "And so are you!" He gasped and told me that caught him off guard and made him blush. He was such a fun person, and I am so glad I got to meet him. This is just one example of the wonderful connections you can make with people when you force yourself out of your shell and push yourself to do things you didn't think you could do.
Nicole J (written a few days ago, posting now due to limited internet connection): Before joining the research team I had limited exposure to the Special Olympics. I was oblivious to the infancy of its roots while also having a worldly reach. I had heard of events happening locally but had no idea that Special Olympics events were taking place all over the globe.
Today is the seventh day being here in PyeongChang at the world winter games. I've had the chance to spend most of my days interacting with athletes, coaches, fans and staff and there is something here that is spectacular. Many times throughout each day I find myself commenting on the people I meet and one word that I keep repeating is "amazing". Whether I'm in the elevator, at breakfast or in the dome watching figure skating there is an ever presence of comradery and cheer. The excitement of being here and the excitement of participating in the games is intoxicating.
After spending a week here immersed in this environment I believe that Special Olympics epitomizes what sportsmanship and competition should be. At each of the events I've attended you can sense the high level of competition; competition with others and with their previous best. However, as soon as the whistle blows, buzzer sounds or the music stops the smiles and high fives can be found all around. Even in the stands, the crowd is cheering EVERYONE on. It's nothing short of amazing and a true blessing to experience.
Morgan: I cannot believe this journey is almost to an end. We have gone through so much as a group and it is great to see how we have all grown through this experience of being in a foreign country and being at the Special Olympics World Games. One thing in particular that really amazed me and put life in to perspective was interacting with a man from Austria. He had been in an institution his whole life and had no contact with his parents. Special Olympics had given him something to be a part of for twenty years now. It made me feel good to be involved in something that does not only promote health and athletics, but also belonging and total well-being of people from so many walks of life.
Hilary: Being a part of the research team at the worldwide Special Olympics in South Korea has been an amazing experience. I've have learned so much not only being a part of the research team, but also by interacting with the athletes and their coaches. I do have to admit before I came here I was a little nervous because I have never really had the opportunity to be around people with intellectual disabilities. Now by being here I realize how funny it was being nervous, because it is so easy to approach these athletes. They love to talk to you and tell you about their experiences. For example, I had a lot of great conversations with some of the athletes and coaches from the Canada team. I learned that one female team member was in the Special Olympics for most of her life and loved to help other members of her team with their routines. Another member of the team also remembered my name a few days after talking with me. I thought that was very cool that he remembered not only talking with me but my name. Another athlete I talked to was from Austria, he said he has been a participant in the Special Olympics for over 20 years. He also mentioned some obstacles he has been through in his life, his mother and father were never a part of his life and he was institutionalized since her was a child. The most interesting aspect about him was his happiness, I have never met anyone so happy. It seemed like nothing would ever ruin his mood. I'm happy I had a chance to talk with him, he was very inspirational. I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to meet these athletes and hear about their experiences.