It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be part of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Without hesitation, I signed up to be a language volunteer. I was assigned to serve in the Youth Olympic Village (YOV). Wow, it’s really a rare chance that one can get into an Olympic Village!

I was very excited on my first day on duty. I was at the multilingual switchboard. Besides working adults like me, many foreign residents and students from international schools, junior colleges and universities volunteered. On Day 2, I was interpreter for the Chinese team in the Cultural and Educational Program (CEP). It was fun. They were really united and put up a good show. After the game, the young ambassador gave me a pin. I was elated! Everybody, volunteers and athletes alike, have been going around and exchanging pins with one another. Wow, this is the “in-thing” among the young ones and I'm beginning to pick up.

In the course of my 8-day duty, I helped an IOC official to interview two Chinese athletes who participated in the CEP. One of them was a silver medalist in badminton. She was relaxed after the competition and looking forward to CEP and getting to know new friends. I was also asked to help a student reporter to interview the Japanese table-tennis team at the Indoor Stadium. I was excited and nervous. I wanted to do it, even though I may not be up to the mark. The two young players were very shy. The coach was rather impatient and hurried us, as they were scheduled to start their practice soon. I was very happy to know that the boy won a gold medal 3 days later.

My last day of duty was at the Marina Barrage. We learned about clean water and renewable energy sources. I met an African athlete from Sierra Leone. It took her 3 days in 4 flights to get to Singapore! I hope she had a good experience and took home with her fond memories of YOG in Singapore.

It was a fulfilling experience, even though the hours were long. As a volunteer, we were there to serve, not to be served. It was heartwarming to see the dedication, understanding and cooperation rendered by all volunteers despite the hiccups along the way. I enjoyed making friends and taking photos with the mascots, marveled at the diverse cultural mix on this earth and different behavior of the young adults, and pondered over the values of Olympic and volunteerism.

My salute goes to all the YOG volunteers. We do not need to do a big job. All volunteer duty is just as great even though it may not be glamorous. Take the example of volunteers who guard at the various entry points to check that people walking in and out have the right accreditation to enter. This is far from glamorous, a humble yet essential role to ensure a safe and smooth YOG. Isn't that something we should be grateful for?

The opening speech by IOC President, Jacques Rogge, added greater depth to the pursuit of the Olympic dream. “You will learn the difference between winning and being a champion. To win, you merely have to cross the finish line first. To be a champion, you have to inspire admiration for your character, as well as for your physical talent. You have to compete in spirit of fair play, respecting your opponents and the rules — without doping or any other unfair advantage.”

Yes, it’s not all about winning in the YOG. The Cultural and Educational Program (CEP) is designed to reinforce the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect. Through their participation in the CEP activities, it is heartening to know they uphold these values and are receptive and keen to go beyond sports to learn new things and make new friends. Different nationalities play together as a team and helped one another. To embrace excellence is to put in one’s best effort, whether one wins or not. We can be friends, whether you are a medalist or not. We respect all who participate fairly, whatever diverse background they are from.

Life is not all about winning. Embrace the values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect, and things will look more beautiful. I’m so proud that Singapore made it. I’m so glad that I have been a part of it. Thank you, everybody, for making YOG possible in Singapore!

Contributed by Lim Wai Cheng / NPC survivor
Date: 26 August 2010
Survivor since 2005

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