Supporting event management with a foreign language skill
Voice of a participating student
Waseda University sent six student volunteers in February 2018 to the 23rd Winter Olympics held in PyeongChang, South Korea. The students, who received pre-service training in autumn last year and on-site training early February this year, conducted volunteer activities at various venues during the games from February 9 to February 25. Nanase Toyoda, a first-year student at the School of International Liberal Studies, who is back from the event, speaks about her experiences.
Nanase Toyoda, 1st year at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University
Keenly feeling the importance of language and communication skills at PyeongChang
Learning Korean motivated me to join the volunteer program
I joined the student volunteer program for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games from February 9 until February 25, 2018. Ever since I became a K-pop fan when I was a junior high student, I have been learning Korean. So, I speak Korean at a conversational level. I participated in the program because I thought I could make full use of my Korean language skills.
Waseda University students can participate in the volunteer activities for the Games by belonging either to the Consortium of Foreign Studies in Japan, an association of national and private universities specializing in foreign languages, or to the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, a body that governs sports organizations in Korea. I joined the Consortium of Foreign Studies in Japan, and I was dispatched to the Bokwang Phoenix Snow Park as a guide as well as an assistant for entrance and exit management.
International exchange at an extremely cold athletic venue
The Bokwang Phoenix Snow Park is a mountain resort. I was responsible for outdoor sports, such as Men’s snowboard slopestyle and Women’s mogul freestyle. It was freezing cold. When we were off work, we were able to see competitions with a volunteer pass. I was thrilled when I saw the game closely from the stands, where Ayumu Hirano competed and won a silver medal.
I worked with students from Korea and other countries. I had a hard time coordinating with people in charge as few Koreans spoke English. On-site supervisors did not speak English either, so I had to translate their directions in Korean into English. Unexpected things like this happened one after another. I keenly felt the importance of language and communication skills. I also had opportunities to feel the warmth of Korean culture; many Koreans gave me sweets and pocket warmers as an appreciation for my guiding services.
We stayed and ate together with Korean students at a local school dormitory. I became friends with my roommates, who were Korean volunteer students and fully enjoyed off-work hours. I was surprised to learn that a lot of students learn Japanese at school and that more Korean students spoke Japanese than I had expected.
Hoping that many students will join volunteer programs for the 2020 Games
As I will still be a student when the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games is held, I would like to volunteer for the Games again. I want to be involved in trading business in the future where I believe I can take advantage of my language skills. I learned the importance of language and the significance of the Games through the PheongChang Winter Games, which was an invaluable experience for me. I sincerely hope that many students will join volunteer programs for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.