By Student Blogger Lim Shi Yun
The Olympic experience is one that is truly unforgettable, regardless of whether one had participated in the Games as an athlete, worked in the organising committee or helped out as a volunteer. This August, I had the chance to gain an insight into this experience through the perspective of being a Media Communications Assistant (MCA) volunteer at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
The first thing people always ask me whenever I mentioned that I was volunteering at YOG was about the quality of the food. Thankfully, the problems regarding the quality of the meals for volunteers did not concern me. I was lucky to be helping out at the main media centre, located at the Marina Bay Sands Centre, where the staff and volunteers were able to help themselves to meals buffet-style, with the choices being rotated around a ten-day schedule.
In my opinion, the food was good and I always looked forward to the meals during my duties. One of my lecturers commented that when a big event like the YOG was given negative press coverage on its food quality issues, it really drains the tremendous effort that people have put into planning the event. It reminded me that while it is important to report on stories that have news value, it is imperative that one should not forget to be empathetic towards the people involved in the stories.
The highlight of my stint as a volunteer was when we had to accompany the media on an Exploration Journey to Marina Barrage as one of the Culture & Education Programme (CEP) activities for the youth athletes. The athletes were able to participate in interactive activities at Marina Barrage, which allowed them to learn about sustainable water management. It was especially heart-warming to see foreign youth athletes interacting and playing Frisbee with Singaporean youth at the roof garden, which just shows how sports can bring people together. I will never forget the scene of that leisurely evening, where people of all nationalities had fun together against the backdrop of the mesmerizing view of Singapore’s city skyline.
In addition, I attended a press conference, which happened to feature diving heartthrob, Tom Daley. I remember thinking to myself about the kind of pressure and scrutiny that the YOG athletes must be facing, given their age and knowing that what they said could be headline news the next day. Of course, the conference went smoothly and it occurred to me that the youth athletes truly embodied the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect.
some prominent figures in Singapore. On the days where I had roving duty at different events around Singapore, I saw Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan and a few local celebrities. It was fun to see local celebrities with their families who were there to support them as they ran for the torch relay. One of my friends, who was also a volunteer, was even photographed in a picture that the media had taken of Joanne Peh. It was a mix of amusement and fascination to watch an interview on television, knowing that you were just out of the camera’s view. As the torch relay continued around the heartlands of Singapore, it was heartening to see everyone getting more excited and involved in the days leading up to the opening of the Games.
I feel proud to have been part of such a historic event in Singapore, which Olympics chief Jacques Rogge called a “resounding success”. Being able to help out as a MCA gave me the opportunity to get behind the scenes and learn about the efforts that go into planning an international event. It has, indeed, proven to be a fruitful and once-in-a-lifetime experience! I would just like to end with this quote from minister Vivian Balakrishnan that made me feel volunteering for the nation is an invaluable involvement.
He said: “They are the real stars of the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. I think when all this is over and people have gone home, the enduring memory will be of our volunteers – how they got together, how they delivered. And it is this legacy that will come to define the inaugural Youth Olympics.”