Passion Connected: Portrait of a Volunteer

We'll miss Kim Minjeong, one of our passionate volunteers on the PyeongChang 2018 editorial team. Read all about her experiences as a volunteer below and help us in wishing her and all the other volunteers our gratitude for their passion and dedication.

Working as a volunteer at PyeongChang 2018, has been a huge turning point in my life. Here are my thoughts as I finish up my last few days.

A Passion for English
First of all, it made me feel like an intellectual for the first time. To be honest, I've never wanted to learn something out of genuine passion. I studied because I had to, not because I wanted to. But this time, I wanted to learn English from the bottom of my heart. No only did meeting new people give me happiness; it also gave me the inspiration to study English. I really wanted to get close with people from various countries such as Ireland, China, France and so on. They were so nice, so I hoped to know more about them, and to become friends.

To talk with them without any restrictions, I had to study hard. Because meeting these people was a big pleasure for me, I felt joy as I studied the language, all the while imagining talking with them fluently.

Also, another reason why I was determined to learn and speak more English was that I was disappointed in myself. I have never thought I was bad at English, but I often felt the difficulty. Once I felt my determination to be helpful at work as an English editorial volunteer was fading, I started studying every night until going to bed.

There's a difference between using English in life and studying it at school. I was good at solving examination questions, but had little chance to speak the language in conversation. This experience as a Passion Crew volunteer has made me think about how English education could be improved in every aspect without losing any of the practicality and availability that’s exists already.

Although it was hard at first, this experience became a precious chance to develop my skills and I can say without a doubt that I enjoyed learning English. This time, what I desired to learn was English, but next time, I could be passionate about learning something else. So, I’ll continue to give every opportunity my best effort whatever I learn.

Going Behind the Scenes at PyeongChang 2018
Another aspect I enjoyed, was being able to see and learn the details behind the fancy Olympic Games. Luckily, I had a few chances to watch some of the sports at the Olympic Games in person.

From the start I was able to see how the systems around the different venues were set up before the Games started. I could not imagine how long it would take to prepare, considering all the variables that have to be considered to make things go well.

As well as the thousands of volunteers that are hard at work to make an event like this happen along side the professionals, there are also the people who were cheering us in their homes who are the hidden treasure that make the Olympics work. Because PyeongChang hosted a Winter Games, It was sometimes difficult to work in the cold weather, so it’s even more impressive that everyone was able to carry out their assignment. Without all these people we would not have been as successful as we were. I appreciate all of the support and cheering that everyone gave.

Loving the Sportsmanship
As a volunteer I could see the sportsmanship at PyeongChang 2018 first hand. This was especially true for the match between Lee Sanghwa and Kodaira Nao in the ladies' 500m speed skating event. They both did their best and still cheered each other. Their hug was the most heart-warming moment I witnessed in the Olympics.

They showed what sportsmanship and the Olympic spirit is. They were rivals in the Games, but the fact they are real friends doesn't change. Regardless of the history of two countries, the two of them holding their flags moved me.

Friends Forever
Finally, the most important thing to me from this whole experience is that I met lots of great friends that will be remembered forever. Before coming here, I had lots of concerns whether I could get along with other volunteers. Whether it be staying, eating or working together – it was my first time to live with other people for a long time. My fears were not realised, and soon my roommates and I became so close in such a short time. Although we were totally different, taking the time to know one another made us connected. We talked a lot about every detail of ourselves, living almost like sisters. We were all very considerate about one another. For example, if there was someone who can’t get to sleep at night, we took a walk together. Although this meant I sometimes felt tired after coming back to work, it was nice to hear their stories and hear their heartfelt advice.

I also became friendly with the people I worked together with. I used to think it is difficult to get along with older people, but the day I went to see an opening dress rehearsal changed my thoughts. The age did not matter at all. It gave me the confidence to decide that I could be friends with whoever I want.

Getting to go to the opening dress rehearsal was meaningful in itself, but it was more meaningful to socialize with others, taking pictures and sharing memories that would be unforgettable on the coldest day in my life.

It is good to meet old friends who were familiar and comfortable, but it was also nice to get to know a new good person. I was grateful for being able to get along with everyone regardless of their age, gender, or nationality. It was such a valuable time. I was really sad to think of saying goodbye to them, even before the Olympics were over. I loved them sincerely.

A Sad Farewell
When my days in PyeongChang were over, it was really hard to say goodbye to everyone and leave the place that I had become so fond of. I tried not to cry but I couldn’t help it – I couldn't imagine leaving my friends. I was in a sad mood a week before the Olympics were over. I know I can keep in touch with them, but I knew it would be different. Lots of people have told me: “If there is a meeting, there is a separation.” I've heard these words lots of time, but on the day I left I understood them. The idea consoled me a lot, but it was still hard to go through.

The time I spent here felt like a dream. I was honoured to participate in this huge event, meet wonderful people and experience so much. While I was here, I had lots of thoughts and feelings that I've never experienced. It has made me mature.

I am grateful to everyone I met along the way.

Thank you for selecting me as a volunteer and giving me this precious opportunity. It was a once in a lifetime experience. I love you my friends. Let's keep in touch and I hope you remember me forever! I truly believe we can see each other soon.

Kim Minjeong

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