Olympic and Paralympic Project Promotion SectionWaseda University

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Student volunteer activities at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games (4)

Positive attitude cultivated through venue management and communication between students

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 until February 25. Urim Han, a fourth-year student at the School of International Liberal Studies, who is back from the event, speaks about her experiences.

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Urim Han, 4th year at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University

Connecting people through sports and communication

I want to try my trilingual abilities

I am Korean, and I speak three languages: Korean, Japanese, and English as I have lived in Japan for 11 years and in the US for 7 years. When I was thinking what I could do with my language skills, I learned about the student volunteer program for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and dared to apply for it.

About 100 students who participated from Japan were divided into groups of 30 to 35 and dispatched to venues. I was assigned to the information center at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, where I was responsible for responding to visitors’ queries and providing route information. Flexibility was required in dealing with visitors from different countries.

I was moved by communication beyond national borders

The Jeongseon Alpine Centre’s athletic fields are surrounded by mountains. Spectators will need to use ski lifts to see competition. Some of them, however, walked up hills. Whenever I saw people going up on foot, I gave encouraging words like “Way to go!” or “You are almost there.” They all responded with a smile regardless of where they were from or how old they were. I felt so rewarded every time I saw their smile.

I have been fond of sports since childhood. I was filled with emotions just to see professional competition right in front of me. Even more impressive was that spectators cheered equally for all athletes. I was very moved as I felt a connection through sport.

At the dormitory, each room was shared by five people. Though I had thought that volunteer students spoke Korean, most of my roommates did not. They asked me to teach Korean, and I gave them Korean lessons from day one. They were able to speak Korean at a conversational level only a month later. Their passion and positive attitude was inspiring.

Advancing my language skills toward 2020

What I learned through communication with spectators and volunteer students is the importance of speaking to others. I was a shy girl until my high school days. I am no longer reluctant to speak with strangers thanks to the volunteer experiences. I want to make more use of my language skills at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I started learning Chinese wishing to be a bridge connecting people from many more countries.

 

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