posted on February 05, 2013 07:27
We all just got back from the World Winter Games Closing Ceremonies. We are filled with mixed emotions; some of us are ready to head home, some of us want to linger longer, and all of us relished in the fact that we hope to have the opportunity again to be in the presence of so many different nations. As the games wrap up, here are some final thoughts from the rest of the research team:
Amanda: Being here has been an amazing experience, it has allowed me to meet people from all around the world and hear about their life. It was fascinating to hear about how they have become who they are and how they worked to get here to the 2013 World Winter Special Olympics. One story that stands out for me was a young man who was socially under developed growing up. He was placed in an institution at a young age because his parents were unsure of what to do to help him. When he was about 15 years old he was introduced to the sport cross country skiing which change his life for the good. It gave him the opportunity to socialize with other individuals and even gave him a chance to get closer to his family by letting him teach them about the sport to which he was so passionate about. It also lead him here to the 2013 World Winter Special Olympics which seems to have furthered enhanced his self-concept.
Lauren: My time here at the Special Olympics in South Korea has taught me many things about people from other countries and even myself. When I was thinking about the people who would be here, I mainly thought of countries on the map and that they would be stereotypical of what I already know about those countries (which is little). During the opening ceremonies, I saw all of the athletes from those countries and thought wow, the athletes were nothing like what I had expected. To put faces to a country was the most amazing part of this trip. I feel like I have traveled the world just by talking to these athletes. The strong emotions that I have seen from the athletes from Special Olympics South Dakota have also been witnessed from all other countries. I am thankful and grateful for having the chance to attend these events and to simply be astonished by these individuals.
Devon: This trip to the Special Olympics has been very eye opening. It's been refreshing to see that people from all over the world can come together and enjoy time with each other and develop new friendships. I have met athletes from many different countries who had never even seen snow before they arrived at the games. They have been training in sand and other conditions that can replicate snow just to have the chance to come here. After talking to all of them, there has not been a single one that has had a bad thing to say about training in a desert or other subpar conditions, they're just so excited to be here competing and are also responding on our survey with the most common answer of "meeting new friends."
The teams have been very open to meeting us and helping us the best they can. Even when they don't speak English, coaches are going through a lot of extra work to translate our whole conversation with them. We have taken a lot of pictures with athletes and check in on them at night to see how their competitions went throughout the day. I have made one very good snowboarding friend who is now a triple medalist. It's fun to know that when they ask you to come watch, they're sincere. When he would finish his run and get past the coaches, I was the first one he would come running up to all excited. That's a feeling I don't think you will ever get at an event other than the Special Olympics.
Peter (written a few days ago, posted now due to internet connection problems): It has been an amazing week so far. We have had a lot of help from athletes and the coaches are really optimistic about having their athletes help us. The coaches talk to their athletes and get them involved to help us out and they understand the importance of doing these surveys. Just talking to the athletes is a great experience, especially athletes from Canada, Ireland and the US. I plan on taking what I have learned from working with athletes and talking to these athletes and watching these events back with me and making it a part of my life.