I was one of the volunteers of the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Yes, I know, everyone had something to criticize these Olympics. I myself don’t agree with much (probably all that you did not agree). But it has always been my dream to participate in some form of the Olympic Games.
Then in the second half of 2014, when they opened the volunteers’ inscriptions, I quickly went to the internet fill my form. And the saga began…
The process was long: Language tests, online engagement tests, interview – which, incidentally, gave me some headaches, because without realizing it, I signed up as a Brazilian living in Brazil, but I was in Switzerland at the time, remember? – And after almost a year, it was the guidance to wait for the letter of invitation. The notorious invitation letter.
And I waited. The prevision was it to get to me by March / April 2016 ― which, in my opinion, was already a little late for those who don’t live in Rio, right? Imagine getting hostels, friend house and everything? ―, but March came, then April, May, June and nothing! I had already given up was already disgusted by the lack of response in respect of not even say, “oops, wait, you won’t be called, kid.” And all my friends getting this notorious letter …
But anyway, I followed my life. In early July I went to the Caminho do Sertão, when, specifically on the days without 3G or Wi-Fi and no phone signal, I received an email with the notorious invitation letter. But when I was able to open the email, the response time had passed.
Okay, it wasn’t supposed to happen. I resigned, it wasn’t for me… it was too late, I had to give up. It was a sign, or rather, lack of signs, right? (Infamous, I know.)
I was upset, of course. But I decided I would watch as I always did: from home.
Finally, on July 29th, I received another email with the invitation letter. So, as if nothing had happened. First I decided to ignore it, just because I was angered (yeah, I am like this), but after talking with a friend, I found out that things were conspiring for me to go: our college classes (YAY last semester!!!) would start only after the Olympic Games. Then I finally began to consider (or was it a sign?) to go indeed.
I accepted on the Volunteer Portal website and it didn’t take long for me to receive an email from my future supervisor already asking when I could go, after all the work would start on the 3rd, two days before the Games, since our audience were journalists and not spectators. Then I confused myself and said that I would come on 5th with the opening, thinking I would get everything ready by then, but it didn’t happen. And full of guilty conscience for being late already at work!
Then it was craziness: I had no idea of where to stay. I don’t any have relatives in Rio, my only friend that would work as a volunteer too and lived in Rio, told me that his house would be full already.
Luckily Facebook saved me. I posted that needed lodging and soon two friends offered the house. One of them actually offered to her parents, who were lovely enough to lodge me in the early days, because theoretically their house was far from where I was allocated: the IBC, near the Olympic Park. Then I went to my other friend’s home where, although close, was a little out of hand for those who don’t have a car. Then my boyfriend was spending the weekend and I went to stay with him at his uncle’s his house and even had the good fortune to be invited by a friend of a friend to spend my last days in his house, that wasn’t near the Park Olympic, but it was in downtown with a beautiful view.
In the end, for one who had no idea where to stay, I ended up being super welcomed by wonderful people I thank infinitely for having entered my life. <3
I also got to know a good part of Rio thanks to those moving!
I arrived well on the 5th, at 7 am in Rio. I went straight catch the uniform in the Cidade do Samba, to solve just what I needed to solve and have the day off. The thing is: Cidade do Samba only opens at 8am. I was in a little row, but then they said that the volunteers had preference, and was until very fast! I think before 10am I was free again.
My work routine was not hyper hard, but I had to wake up almost every day at 4:30 am to be able to get transportation to the Olympic Park. My shift was the morning one: from 6:30 am until 14:30. (And on my first day, Google decided to troll me and I had to walk about 40 minutes to find my workplace, I ended up hyper late and dying of shame! Luckily that my supervisors are the best!)
The work was this: we stayed in the internal radios IBC – International Broadcast Center listening to all that was communication between functional areas and then up came a bug, we had to call the responsible right away and ask to resolve the problem. If nothing happened, we just had to keep monitoring it.
There were some busier days than others, of course. But overall, we had no major difficulties, which was really good! (And really good indeed, because it means that there were no problems in general, right, people?)
Our routine work was more or less this: we arrived, we passed through security (yeah people, journalists, volunteers and staff also passed every time they had to go through that whole security), line up, credential scanners, take out the belt , X-ray, no liquids…
Then we had to go to the check-in Work Force to check in ― scan again the credential ― get food-voucher of the day, a water bottle and repellent / sunscreen if we wanted, and then we went up pro our HQ. Some days we even received a treat of the Olympics, as the watch or pins.
And on the first day, people in the Work Force celebrated our first day! So cute!
Oh, another function of VCC was making announcements to all functional areas, like lunch our daily, meeting …
The lunch I found very tasty every day. Usually there was rice and beans (because we were in Brazil, right?), pasta, two protein options (some days salmon!), salad, fruit (usually melon! <3) and a dessert, which was usually cake and delicious ambrosia <3 (you can realize I have kind of a sweet tooth, right?). Then to drink, we could choose between cola, guarana, soda and Mate tea (all the same sponsor, right?).
And after lunch, we could take an ice cream at Work Force! <3
Then after lunch, people from second shift arrived and we walked away.
Speaking like this, I know it doesn’t seem so exciting, but it was really very nice to meet all those people gathered by the Olympic spirit. Only there VCC we were people from various parts of Brazil and even a Swiss girl (Lausanne !!!!) who speaks and understands very well the Portuguese (remember we kept hearing things on the radio, and sometimes it is hard to understand the mother language, imagine for a foreign!).
I really don’t know with what mood would have gotten out of bed at 4:30 am every day to work if not for the animation that I knew I would find there the Work Force at check-in and then in VCC to all our hours of “espionage”; P
There was also a great surprise: some tickets for games were distributed for volunteers! We won two pairs for different games! And very hard my supervisors, I could swap one of my tickets by the end of the Taekwondo 49kg to 58kg women and even men! <3 (see how my supervisors are the best ?!) (Oh, you may not know, but I practiced taekwondo for most of my teenage years and was very important in my life, this sport won me over with full force, because of this sport I met many incredible people and made me overcome myself. Finally, it’s something I miss so much on my daily life!)
So, in the end, I was really sad to have to come home early! It has also increased the desire to return to the Paralympics!