My first games is finally over.
The feelings going though my head now that I’m spending my final week in Korea is crazy. It was an honor working with Team USA and I am so glad to have been a part of the Winter Olympics. Many of you asked what my role was at the Olympics. I worked at the athletes village in Gangneung supporting our hockey, speed skating, figure skating, and curling teams. It was crazy to work in the village because I literally got to see athletes from around the world.
My craziest experience was talking to a North Korean athlete.
While wearing a team USA hat, I politely greeted the athlete and we had small talk. The athlete was kind and was open to saying hello back. It was crazy to see North Korea hang their flag outside of their apartment because of the current political and inhuman situation their country is facing as a whole. The whole combined Koreas seemed way too political to have been approved for a combined hockey team but that’s in another blog post later. Only through sport, are we able to come together as nations without judgement and that was an incredible feeling.
I was able to witness history, twice.
Our women’s hockey team got a gold medal against Canada and me and my friend were sitting front row for that game. Our credentials allowed us to get into venues so we took that privilege and was able to experience history. Our Men’s curling team ALSO took home the gold and that was a huge deal. A bunch of men that weren’t known for the sport but came out with gold showed how our spirits are just as strong as our talent. I have met some of the most amazing people while working at the Olympics. I have definitely made life long friends and it’s a blessing that we made our memories together experiencing the winter games together.Being able to help and be part of Team USA fired up my excitement and love for my country.
Being Korean American in Korea, wanting to get shit done is not easy.
Although I speak Korean, sometimes when I do speak Korean since it isn’t as fluent there would be a barrier of respect and communication which made it hard to get things done at times.Personally, I missed a week of the Olympics because I got into a situation while visiting family. Long story short, I experienced “reversal racism” at a bar and had to settle things through law enforcement. I learned from this exact moment that the culture differences between USA and Korea are large that even if you think you may be doing something right, this particular country can take it the wrong way.I took this experience and made it a learning tool for the remainder of my trip and knowledge for the future.
Coming to Korea was one of the biggest blessings of my life and it helped me kick start 2018 in the right way. This life experience was definitely a first but will not be my last. A ton of volunteers here have been assisting games for some time and apparently once you start, you’re always going to come back for future games. I have learned more about myself on things I need to work on, things I can take from this experience for my future, and best of all – knowing that I contributed towards one of the craziest experiences of my life so far. I promised a vlog every week but it stressed me at times because sometimes I would get home super late BUT I compiled my beginning, middle, and end. This is something I will always remember and look back to once I leave Korea. I’ve been here for over two months already. Time flies so I’m going to make the best of it every day.