Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Dream

How do you create a "Global Citizenship Legacy?"

It's a challenging question; one that The 2010 Sharing The Dream Webcast Team has spent the past seven months trying to answer. And really, the truth is, I'm not sure that a single, concrete, right answer even exists. What I am sure of is that creating that legacy is possible. I know because I've experienced it. I've become part of it, and it has become part of me. It's been a journey that will continue, I'm sure, for the rest of my life.

The first challenge of creating a Global Citizenship Legacy was defining what, exactly, those words mean. To this day, it is a definition that is steadily evolving in my mind.

Before the games, I thought that to be a global citizen, you had to make these huge sacrifices – had to organize a charitable event or travel to Africa and build a school, but over the past year, my definition of global citizenship really broadened. Of course, being a global citizen is still participating in those huge humanitarian endeavors, but I've come to realize that it’s also the smaller every day actions. It'sthe guy who gave me directions to Thunderbird Stadium when I was lost on the Sky-train, even though he was carrying a Swedish flag and I had a maple leaf drawn on my cheek, or the fact that I can honestly say that I’ve made friends with student reporters from London and biathlon fans from Germany. Over the course of my Sharing the Dream experience, I really learned that Global Citizenship is more than one action or one event. It’s a lifestyle.

As for what a legacy is, that definition has also grown and expanded for me. In it's most raw and simplified form, a legacy is what is left behind. It is the residue of the Games - the venues that are now recreational centres and the celebration sites that will continue to promote culture in our city. Our legacy, however, also consists of what hasn't been left behind. It consists of a carbon neutral torch relay, that has allowed future generations to live greener lives. It is also what is passed forward. It's the lessons and mistakes that we are able to learn from as London 2012 and Sochi 2014 fast approach.

This morning, at Sharing The Dream's final webcast, John Furlong spoke about the idea of the "human legacy". To me, this is the most important part of legacy, the part that we've chosen to focus on the past year. It involves instilling the Olympic and Paralympic ideals in our youth, and promoting the values of the Olympic Truce.

It wasn't easy to come up with these definitions. Even as I type them out now, it's hard to summarize properly. Each person we met along our Sharing The Dream journey had an important piece to contribute to our definition.

The Governor General spoke on peace and solidarity and the importance of youth in establishing the two. Paralympians Andrea Holmes and Donovan Tildesley spoke about equality and over coming obstacles. Author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson stressed the importance of communication and establishing strong relationships when trying to achieve peace. Humanitarian, Craig Kielburger, was dynamic in the message he gave to youth, urging them to "be the change they wish to see in their world". Minister of Education, Margaret MacDiarmid, explained how education plays a role in developing global citizens.

This morning, we had our seventh and final webcast. We were lucky enough to have John Furlong as our keynote speaker, who stressed the power sport has to unite people of all backgrounds, and John Edwards tuned in from London to speak about his experience as an athlete and LOCOG member creating peace through sport. Olympic ski-cross competitor, Julia Murray, and Paralympic ski-cross competitor, Tyler Mosher, both spoke about their journeys to 2010, and educators from both BC and London taught us about how important youth are in global citizenship movements. From our studio audience and a group of young leaders in London, we had the chance to hear our peers' thoughts on the Games and peace-building.

Honestly though, as cheesy as it may sound, some of the most important definitions came from the other members of the "Dream Team". We often joke that it's unfortunate we don't have cameras on us during every day conversations, because, often, that is when the most valuable understanding of global citizenship emerges.

As a team, have spent hours discussing culture, sport, education, social justice, religion, and the consequences and benefits when of when they all collide. We've had conversations on aboriginal rights here in Canada, the caste system in India, poverty in Mexico and Africa, disaster in Haiti, and censorship in China and within our own system of government. This morning, we had a lengthy discussion on Hijabs and arranged marriages and how they relate to women's rights. These startingly honest and insightful conversations have taught me so much about the world around me.

In the end, as previously stated, it's hard to say exactly how you create a Global Citizenship Legacy. It takes a certain amount of dedication to the cause, and a healthy appetitite for learning. It requires a willingness to make (many) mistakes and learn from them, and an openess to change and new ideas. A passionate team of both youth and adults is necessary.

Other than that, however, I think that the possibilites are endless. And, maybe, that's the whole point of the legacy, proving that "If you dream it, you can do it."

Sharing The Dream has been a truly incredible, inspiring, and life-altering opportunity for me, and to close this blog, I'd like to end with one of my favourite quotes in the entire world. It's from a book called Footfree and Fancyloose, by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, and I think it sums up my past seven months with Sharing the Dream in three simple sentences:

"Dreams are complicated. They almost never turn out like you imagine - they almost always change. Sometimes, they change you."

You can find out more about Sharing The Dream, as well as view past webcasts, at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Toronto Star Article

My latest Toronto Star article discussed The Olympic Truce and the Governor General's youth Forums. You can read the article here:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sharing The Dream in Victoria

2 days after Vancouver 2010
It was an early Monday morning for the members of the Sharing the Dream team. We were downtown by 6:30, in order to catch a 7:20 flight to Victoria. Call me a beginner, but the idea of boarding a seaplane was definitely enough to get me excited and out of bed.
Luckily, the flight did not disapoint. A brilliant sunrise hit the horizon as we waved goodbye to our sleepy city.

We landed in Victoria's sunny harbour and caught a shuttle over to the Legislature building, with it's freshly manicured lawn and impressive stone stature. Inside, we were quickly escorted upstairs to film a short segment with the Honourable Margaret McDiarmid, Minister of Education. Like the last two times we met, the minister was very warm and welcoming, even remembering our names as she introduced us to the camera.

From there, we were escorted to a meeting room, where we met our interviewees for the press conference: Lauren Groves, a 2008 Olympic triathlete and London hopeful; Ryan Cochrane, who won bronze for swimming in Beijing and is also a Londong hopeful; Sean Leslie, a CKNW journalist; Hon. Ida Chong, Minister of Sport and Healthy Living; and Deb Whitten, the Vice Principal of Claremont Secondary and a 1992 olympian in field hockey.

We quickly went over introductions and questions, before heading to the conference room. Minister MacDiarmid facilitated the event, and each member of Sharing the Dream asked a question. I asked Ms. Whitten about what the Games meant to her as an educator, and she spoke about the importance of participation over medal winning. "It's not about the triumph, it's about the struggle." She said.

I also asked Lauren Groves about why she thought sport had the power to overstep cultural barriers. She explained how the key values of sport are universal, and that, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, we can all embrace the Olympic ideals.

After the conference, we had the chance to speak with various MLAs and both the ministers. This was a particularly memorable experience. It's not often you find yourself in a casual conversation about the values of sport with two women who need to be addressed with the title "The Honourable" before their names!

We were also lucky enough to get a private tour of the Press Gallery. As an aspiring journalist, it was particularly fascinating to see the cluttered workspace the print journalists work in. It is honestly the most intruiging office I have ever set foot in. It looks like something out of a 1950s movie, where journalists in black fedoras flip their pads of paper open and lick the tip of their pen.

The furniture is old, made of dark wood, and the windows and tall and allow sunlight to pour in. Teetering stacks of paper lean against desks and on top of filing cabinets, the walls are plastered with political cartoons, articles, family photos, and bumper stickers. A can of spam sits on top of one of the dividers, and ties hang off a lamp. When you first walk in, the light overhead has beads draped around it and rolled up newspapers tucked into it. Talk about character.

From there, it was down multiple flights of stairs to see where the radio reporters work. Our guide joked that they'd been banished there after a particular Premier grew tired of their forceful questioning. He spoke about the continous struggle between the press, who always want more access, and politicians, who always want more privacy.

In the cramped basement quarters of the radio reporters, we were continually told "Not to let this office turn you off journalism. It really is a great job." Frankly, though, despite lacking both space and windows, the environment struck me as exciting and dynamic. Like downstairs, the walls were covered in newspaper clippings, the shelves stocked with antiquated radio equipment, the air filled with sarcastic banter.

We regretfully left the legislature to head back to Vancouver around noon. We picked up sandwhiches from a little deli and ate them sitting on the docks at the harbour, soaking in the gorgeous sunshine. It was a beautiful flight home, admiring the islands that dot the Strait of Georgia.

Back in Vancouver, and exhausted after such an eventful morning, we crowded around a table at the office and had a conversation on legacy and our final webcast, which is coming up on Thursday, March 25th. Sleepy as we were, we found the energy to discuss how amazing our Sharing the Dream experience has been, and our hopes for the students in London.

Approaching Vancouver

Please tune in online at on Thursday morning to watch the team's final webcast, as we pass on the torch of Global Citizenship to our peers in London.
The Team

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Water's Edge Music Festival

Day 10 of the Paralympic Games

I spent the final afternoon of my Vancouver 2010 experience in the Tri Cities, at (as far as I know) the only Cultural Olympiad event to make it's way out here. The Water's Edge Music Festival has featured a series of performers over the past weekend, and today, Lisa and I were in for a choral performance by the Coastal Sound Youth Choir and Musica Intima.

Although Musica Intima headlined, in my mind, the opening act stole the show. The youth choir presented a variety of pieces - from lyrical compositions describing the prairies at dusk, to rhythmic Brazillian songs to a sarcastic analysis of arguements between males and females. The finale was a haunting rendition of U2's "With or Without You", composed by their accompaniest.

Ranging from ages 15 to 25, their young ages gave the performance life, without losing professionalism. In comparison, Musica Intima was a little less playful. That being said, however, their talent was incredible, their voices filling the room effortlessly.

Lisa and I grabbed the chance to talk with a couple Coastal Sound members during intermission. They spoke about the opportunities that the Cultural Olympiad has opened up for them, including singing at the Opening Ceremonies, and the feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves or even their choir.

For me, their stories are perfect example of how these Games have created opportunities for youth - and Canadians in general - to exhibit their talent and interest in art, culture, and music.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Belated Whistler Photos

Day 9
Sorry these have taken so long! They're all from the Whistler trip on Day 6 to see the Biathalon. Check out my thoughts on the day in my post "What Moves You?"

Joseph Geisen runs in front of the crowd, celebrating his bronze medal

Whistler's accessible playground, designed to allow kids of all abilities to play together

The team

Belated Whistler Videos

Day 9

Sorry these have taken so long! They're all from the Whistler trip on Day 6 to see the Biathalon. Check out my thoughts on the day in my post "What Moves You?"

Grade 4 students try their hand at sit-down skiing

Speaking with a student about the experience

German fans cheer for their medal-winning Biathletes

A New Direction

Day 8
Over the past two days, Students Live and Sharing the Dream have been introduced to another team of student reporters...straight from London! The two teams bonded by comparing culture and language (did you know they call trucks lories in England?) as we toured LiveCity Downtown, saw the medals at the mint, photographed the cauldron, and filmed a webcast back at the office.

Below is a video montage of everybody skating together at Robson Square tonight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Moves You?

Day 6 of the Paralympic Games

An incredible day today.

It started off with an early drive up to Whistler. If you've ever been along the sea-to-sky, you know that's a perfect way to wake up. The highway winds along the coast, perched on cliffsides of towering mountains, sprinkled with deep green trees and striped with sheer rock faces. To the left and down a steep drop, the ocean sparkles and islands and mountains fade in gradients of blue.

After a pit stop in Squamish we made our way to the Callaghan Valley to watch the long distance Biathalon events. We made it in time to see Men's and Women's 12.5 km Upright and Visually Impaired. It was fascinating to watch after seeing the Olympic version almost exactly a month ago.

Like in the Olympic version, the upright skiiers swayed rhymically, pumping their legs. Unlike their counterparts, many of them were propelled only by one pole. Some, managed to ski without any. One of these, was Josef Geisen, a German athlete competing in his fourth Paralympic Games.

We had the chance to speak with Josef's wife prior to his race, through a friendly translator. In smiling German, she expressed how proud she is of her husband - "Her man", her long journey from Germany here, and how she likes Vancouver and finds our mountains impressive. After having the chance to meet his family, we found ourselves cheering wildly for Josef as he skiied by, sharing in his Paralympic dream.

When he won his bronze, he jumped up and down, and strode in front of the crowd, bowing in joy. As everybody else found their eyes glued to Josef, I turned to my left, and caught a glimpse of the expression of sheer joy on his wife's face. It was then I truly understood the type of support and love that helps propel these elite athletes.

We visited Whistler Village after the event, where the energy is definitely palpable. As the host city of 62/64 Paralympic events, and every medal ceremony, the festivities are in full blast, with life music and fans left and right. We also checked out the newly built accessible playground, complete with a ramp and sensory wall.

After such a busy day, it was an evening drive home, once again along the Sea-to-Sky. As the sun dipped below the silhouettes of islands and mountains, staining the ocean golden, it occured to me that in more ways than one, I'd come full circle.

My first official Olympic event was the biathalon. My final official Paralympic event? Also the biathlon. It's been an incredible journey inbetween. I've learned so much and met so many people, and I know that throughout the next few weeks, as Sharing the Dream winds down, I'm in for even more experiences. And it's nice to think that I started it all the same way I ended the day, enjoying this beautiful place we live in.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Paralympic Opening Ceremony

Day 2 of the Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games opened last night with a moving and memorable ceremony last night. Like their Olympic counterpart, they featured parading athletes, moving speakers, lots of dancing, and a fair amount of singing. These ones, however, placed a particular focus on youth and on the future of the growing Paralympic movement. The theme of the night was "one inspires many, a celebration of ability".

Students Live and Sharing the Dream members, dressed in our Opening Ceremony Ponchos and ready for audience participation!

Visually, two moments from the ceremony stand out. The first, occured when wheelchairs began to roll out from the gate below us, guiding giant balloons, which floated hauntingly overhead. The second was the women who signed a song from the center of BC Place, as flowers and spirals of colour sprung from beneath her.

Giant balloons, float hauntingly overhead

Flowers springing across the floor of BC Place

On a musical note, the high point of the night was when a purple-clad Nikki Yanofsky stepped onto the stage and, in her usual fashion, belted out a beautiful and inspiring melody, accompanied by a youth choir from Vancouver.
Nikki Yanofsky performing at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony

Lastly, the spiritual highlight of the night, undoubtedly, was a tear jerking homage to Terry Fox, ending with his parents carrying the torch into the stadium. Also of note was a portion dedicated to Rick Hansen. Opening and closing ceremonies producer, Patrick Roberge, was quoted earlier in the week by The Province as having remarked that "with national heroes such as Rick Hansen and Terry Fox, Canadians are "incredibly ready" to give their full support to international Paralympians."

The Paralympic Cauldron, surrounded by youth

Paralympic Opening Press Conference

Day 2 of the Paralympic Games

My paralympic experienced kicked off yesterday at Robson Square, fitting, as that was home base during the Olympic games.

Lauren Byrne and I watched the opening press conference there, complete with John Furlong (CEO of VANOC), Ken Melamed (Mayor of Whistler), Sir Philip Craven (President of the Internation Paralympic Committee), Mary McNeil (Minister of State for the Olympics), James Moore (Heritage Minister) and Tim Stevenson (Vancouver City Councillor). Each expressed their excitement at the upcoming games, and the locals offered welcomes, while the visitors exclaimed over the beauty of the host cities.

We had the chance to speak with Ken Melamed after. He described how proud he is of Whistler's accessability, and described the steps they have already to make it so. These included re-evaluating their environment and working to install ramps rather than stairs and remove barriers of any kind.

That being said, "We still have lots of work to do." admitted Mr. Melamed. He continued by describing his goal of making Whistler the most accessible resort in Canada, and, "maybe even North America."

Lastly, he spoke about a special project very close to his heart, Whistler's Accessible Playground, which was just recently completed. The goal of the project is to allow able-bodied and disabled children to play and bond side by side, and eliminate the physical barriers that may prevent potential friendships between them. It features ramps, a Sway Fun Glider accessible even to wheelchair users, and a sensory wall for the visually impaired.

Speaking with Ken Melamed

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paralympic Fever

11 Days after the Olympic Games
1 Day before the Paralympic Games

It's the eve before the Paralympic Games, and in some ways, I'm just as excited as I was a month ago for the Olympic version - maybe more so.

This time, I'm a bit more prepared for what to expect. I honestly can't wait to return to the crowds at Robson Square, and admire the torch burning once more. In a way, knowing that I'll be skytrain-ing downtown tomorrow for an event is like knowing I'll be coming home.

And what an event I've got tomorrow. I'll be at Robson Square to watch the Torch Celebration, and then over to BC place for Opening Ceremony!

Some quick facts on the Paralympic Games (Courtesy of VANOC) to get you prepared:
- 10 days of Paralympic Games events: March 12-21, 2010
- 64 Oaralympic Winter Games medal events
-1,350 Paralympic Games athletes and officials
-40 Countries participating in Paralympic Winter Games

Opening Ceremony starts at 6:00 tomorrow and will feature a stunning array of performances (with more performers than in the Olympic Opening Ceremony!), aimed at telling the history of the Paralympic Movement and celebrating the idea of "ability".

Monday, March 8, 2010

8 days after the Games

Another great blog to check out. Duff Gibson, a gold medallist in Torino for skeleton, writes about the true Olympic successes.

"Sport at the highest level, at least on the surface, appears to be about winning. It would be easy to assume that at the highest level, sportsmanship and fair play take a back seat to winning but this is clearly not the case. In fact, a great number of the most successful athletes in the world are also the ones who demonstrate the strongest sense of sportsmanship. In other words, although being completely dedicated to winning, they have an awareness of a bigger picture and have a value system that dictates exactly what is and what is not acceptable in terms of making it happen. These athletes have not only succeeded at the highest level but have a greater sense of fulfillment in achieving their success and are more likely to enjoy the process as well. This blog will discuss many of the aspects listed above and hear opinions from a number of highly successful athletes, coaches, sport psychologists and the like. "

Thou dost in us command?

8 days after the Games

A week and one day ago, the streets were singing our national anthem jubilantly, now, the lyrics that we've come to know so well, may shortly undergo a slight alteration. The Governor General announced on March 3rd that parliament will be reviewing the line "In All Thy Son's Command" and proposing to change it to it's original gender-neutral state from a 1809 version, which sang "Thou dost in us command."

This attempt to make the song applicable to all Canadians may seem admirable - but, surprisingly, many seem to be regarding the potential change with a shake of the head. Some point out that if we remove the gender bias, we should also attack the Christian bias. For others, "thou dost in us command" is a bit too much of a tongue twister to adjust to. Most, however, seem to think that the effort is a sad excuse for stepping up for women's rights, when there are so many more important issues (wage disparity, for example?) that should be tackled.

In my opinion, the government could have picked a more reasonable time to raise the issue. This is one of the time periods where Canadian pride has been the highest, and we are embracing our traditions and anthem as they are. Secondly, with the critisism the government was under just before the Games for closing parliament, this public effort to change the anthem can easily come accross as an attempt to distract the public.

However, when it comes down to it, who does it hurt? The symbolic equalization of genders shows Canada and the rest of the world that women are equals, and until that is openly and formally acknowledged, then how can we expect the real issues to be seriously dealt with?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

6 days after the Games

Some amazing footage from a friend. Highly recommend you check it out.

Vancouver 2010, by Jordan Megahy

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A New Flame

3 days after the Olympic Games

It was only three days ago that the Olympic flame was extinguished, plunging Vancouver into a post-Olympic state of darkness. At 10:00am this morning, however, in our nation's Capital, a new spark was lit: the Paralympic Flame.

Over the next ten days, this new flame will journey across Canada, ending, finally, here in Vancouver on March 12, one month after the Olympic flame arrived. Although it will reach a smaller audience, even within the first day, representatives from each of the thirteen provinces and territories will have carried this torch, allowing the flame to symbolically reach their homes. Representing British Columbia today? Television personality Rick Mercer.

From Ottawa, the flame is scheduled to travel to Quebec City, Toronto, Esquimalt and Victoria, Squamish, Whistler, Lytton and Hope, Vancouver (Riley Park) and Maple Ridge, Vancouver (UBC), before entering BC Place for the Official Opening Ceremonies.

When the Olympic flame passed through Vancouver, I had no idea the impact it would make on me. I didn't realize the profound effect it would have - how it would symbolize, for me, the true beginning of my Olympic experience.

That being said, with the Paralympic torch fast approaching, I know enough to be excited. Rain or shine, I plan to be standing on a sidewalk sometime during it's 24-hour relay through Vancouver, cheering for the torch bearer and for our athletes, and embracing the Paralympic ideals of determination and perseverence.

Although similar to the Olympic torch, the Paralympic torch bears a unique inscription along its side, "Spark becomes flame." This metaphor is meant to represent the spark within each of us, that is capable of lighting our entire world. I realize that we've only been left in the darkness for three days, but already, I'm looking forward to the new light the Paralympic Games promise to cast over our city.

Monday, March 1, 2010

An Article You Should Read

1 day after the Games

After completing my own farewell to the Games, I stumbled upon this one. Like the name implies, it conjured up every emotion I've felt in the past 17 days. Take a look.

"These Games were everything a human can feel."
By Christie Blatchford, The Globe and Mail Posted Sunday, February 28, 2010 10:43 PM ET

Some Not-So-Final Thoughts

1 Day after The Games

Seventy-two days and forty-three blogs ago, I was sitting in a familiar office with a group of unfamiliar people. We were a motley crew - ranging in age, skin colour, gender, birthplace, and interests. It seemed, at the time, that we only had two things in common: we were all students, and we were all ready to begin our Students Live experience.

I distinctly remember that first blog post, my very first time blogging. I wrote that I had lots to learn. Now there, is an understatement.

As The Games rapidly approached, the amount of learning that took place throughout the program rivalled the accumulation of my twelve past years of schooling. I learned how to tweet, for one thing; learned about hashtags and the differences between direct and indirect messages. I learned how to send mass messages on Facebook, while trying to recruit fans, and how to upload photos and videos onto Youtube, Flikr, and, of course, Blogger. Steve Ewen, writer for The Province, advised we research athletes prior to events, in case of spontaneous interviews, and Theresa Lalonde, from CBC, taught us to "provide a vantage point, story, or thread that nobody else will be talking about."

The real learning, though, took place outside the office, within stadiums full of cheering fans, or in the patriotic crush of humanity that flooded Granville Street. Throughout the past 17 days, some of my most memorable teachers have been the lively characters I've interviewed on the streets. I'll never forget my first official interview as a Students Live reporter, up in Whistler with Richelle Zheng, questioning an ice sculpter about the tricks of his trade. I met fans flown in from Germany, Minnesota, France, and Quebec, and locals cheering not only for Canada, but for every nation.

I had the chance to speak with Canadian icons - with Maelle Ricker and JJ Anderson. I touched the Stanley Cup and questioned Peter Stastny. Leah Miller from Much Music said "Hi" to me, and Gordon Campell posed for a photo, smilingly remarking "You're the student journalists, aren't you?" Sitting on my bedside table, I have an olympic sticker autographed by John Furlong and Nathalie Lambert.

I also received a lesson in patriotism that instilled more national pride than any socials class ever has. Never have I felt more Canadian than during The Games. When we emerged onto Granville street yesterday, after witnessing Canadian history as our Men's Hockey Team captured gold, I found myself lost in a sea of red. Voices united in our national anthem, flags were abundant, and I felt such an overwhelming sense of comradery with our entire nation. I doubt I will ever feel such a widespread connection again in my entire life.

And perhaps the most important lessons of all were learned in everyday occurances, as the mismatched group of teenagers - with only their student status in common - became a family of confident youth reporters. I can honestly say every person I worked with in Students Live is amazingly talented and will go far in life.

Last night, there was a moment during the Closing Ceremonies, where I found myself with people who, three weeks ago, had been strangers. We were belting out K'naan's Waving Flag and waving our own Canadian flag back and forth. As fireworks showered the night sky with gold, and tears welled in my eyes, I made my peace with the end of the 17 most amazing days Vancouver has ever seen.

There is no way I can summarize everything I learned and experienced in a single blog. And the truth is that The Games officially ended yesterday, but the stories left to tell are infinite. Today, while reflecting on how much I'll miss the experience of The Games, a close friend made an excellent point.

"Though the parades and the athletes and even the world have now left us, the memories never will. They will always be there in our hearts, settled comfortably beside our Canadian spirit."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The 17th Day Of Sport

Day 17
Today was easily one of the most incredible days of my existance. I feel so full right now - ready to laugh and cry at the same time. I can't put the emotion into words.
For now, a few photos. I'll try to sort out my thoughts by tomorrow.
Men's Skating Team Pursuit Gold Medal Winners! Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky and Denny Morrison

Parallel Giant Slalom Gold Medal Winner! J J Anderson

Students Live, camping out at en electronics store downtown to watch the big Gold Medal Hockey Game

"We're number 1!" Celebrating an amazing victory over the US - in overtime no less!

Crowds on Robson celebrate gold
The Torch burns above jubilant hockey fans
A large audience watches the Closing Ceremonies at Livecity Yaletown

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Deux Langues Officielles?

Jour 16

Comme vous le savez, le Canada est un pays bilingue. Alors, nos jeux devraient être bilingues aussi, non? Mais, le sont-ils vraiment? J'ai posé la question aux francophones qui sont à Vancouver pour Les Jeux. Voici leurs réponses.

Une femme au Curling, qui vient de Ottawa, dit que "Sur les sites, le français est partout." Son mari est d'accord. "C'est merveilleux."

Mais, dit-elle, "Les Cérémonies d'Ouverture auraient pu utiliser plus de français. Comme, par exemple, quand Donald Sutherland a prononcé les citations. Ce n'aurait pas été difficile de les traduire en français."

Son mari dit, "Oui, elle a rasion, mais, ici dans l'ouest, il n'y a pas beaucoup de francophones. Alors, l'utilisation du français ici est proportionnée à la population."

Quand j'ai parlé avec deux hommes au centre-ville, tous deux qui viennent du Québec, ont dit des choses semblables. "Le français aux jeux est bien utilisé."

Friday Night Hockey Fever

Day 16
Went downtown last night for the big semi-final game, which we watched from inside Livecity Downtown, where our media passes worked magic getting us inside. Filled to capacity, and roaring with cheers, the atmosphere was filled with patriotism and excitement. The final 20 seconds of the game were some of the most thrilling moments of my olympic experience, as, heart racing, lost in a sea of red, I watched Canada slip by in a narrow victory against Slovakia.

Inside Livecity Downtown

The Crowd cheers wildly for their country - GO CANADA GO

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Conversation At The Mint

Day 14

Speaking with an engineer who helped to design the lazer system that inscribed the designs on the medals.

"Why was it important for you to get involved in this project?"

An Afternoon To Remember

Day 14

Talk about making use of our passes - got a private tour of The Royal Canadian Mint, access to the torch viewing platform, a chance to meet John Furlong and close ups of Jamie Salé and Jon Montgomery! Here are the photo highlights.
Quatchi greets fans at Robson Square

Large audience at Robson Square

Seeds Of Truce art installment at The VPL
LED light at the end of my seed of truce
John Furlong, CEO of VANOC, watches his seed of truce spiral down

Nathalie Lambert, Chef de Mission, watches her seed of truce
Speaking with John Furlong about how he anticipates feeling after The Games conclude. "Happy." He replies, quickly, with a small chuckle. "But happy because of the legacy we have created." He continues, explaining how the Games have made their mark on Vancouver and Canada and how he hopes to share this success with Sochi.
Paralympic Gold Medal. In case you don't know, each 2010 medal is unique in design. They have all been taken from a larger design, created by first nations artist Corinne Hunt. This way, if placed together in the correct formation, they will form a raven and an orca. Design and production of the medals began two and a half years ago.

Olympic Gold Medal

This solid gold coin is worth 3.5 million dollars US

Jamie Salé and Jon Montgomery!

Gold medallist, Jon Montgomery
Gazing at The Flame from the viewing deck

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cultural Olympiad Artist Steps Up For Haiti

Day 13

2010 promises to be a huge year for Somali-born, Canadian musician K'naan.Tomorrow night, he'll be playing a sold-out show at The Orpheum as part of The Cultural Olympiad, and his hit Waving Flag has become an unofficial Olympic anthem.

What makes this artist unique, however, is not his success, but how he chooses to use it.

Drawing from a violence-filled youth and his experience as a refugee in North America, K'naan creates music with a strong social conscience. This was recognized in his performance for Free The Children's Vancouver We Day, in September, where he performed for 16,000 youth; and now, he's once again using his music to make a difference in the world.

This past week, some 50 Canadian artists, dubbed Young Artists For Haiti, gathered at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver to record a new version of K'naan's hit Waving Flag, this one, to raise money for Haiti. So far, with the exception of K'naan, their names are being kept top secret.

Fans, however, are speculating that many of the artists in town for The Cultural Olympiad will be lending their voices to the track.

K'naan's Facebook status last Thursday read, "A special moment. Just landed in vancouver. We're at Warehouse studios with 50 young Canadian artists recording the newest incarnation of "Wavin Flag". Come and become a fan of Young Artists For Haiti . Magic is in the room, so stay tuned!"

Craig Kielburger was also in town for the recording. A week ago he tweeted, "Just landed in Vancouver! Not here for the Olympics, but an event for #Haiti. But the Olympic spirit is everywhere!"

Proceeds from the song will be donated to Craig's organization Free The Children, as well as War Child Canada, and World Vision.

Interviewing Craig at Vancouver's We Day 2009

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What does it mean to be Canadian?

Day 12

Walking down the streets of Vancouver these days, it's hard to ignore the Canadian spirit. Red has become the dominant colour, maple leaves make a fashion statement. There are tattoos and painted faces and flags springing from behind ears or within pockets. The crush of fans frequently break out into patriotic rounds of Oh Canada.

All this enthusiasm for our nation makes me wonder, however, what exactly it is that we are so proud of. So I hit Downtown, camera in hand, and asked some Canadian fanatics what it means to them to be Canadian. Their answers are in the video below.

As for me, I think that being Canadian is an outlook on life.

It is the gritty determination of Dominique Maltais, the Canadian snowboarder. Maltais was in her second run during the qualifying round of Women's Snowboard X, when she wiped out at the base of a hill. The run was in rough condition that day, and Maltais wasn't the only competitor to fall. She was, however, one of few who stood back up, despite the fact that after such a horrendous fall, there was no way she could possibly qualify. Dominique Maltais then proceeded to orient her board sideways, hop up the hill, and continue her ride to the end of the run.

Being Canadian is also found in more simple demonstrations. It is the smile of the friendly college student who kindly directed me off the skytrain and onto a bus that would get me to UBC in time for Women's Hockey. It is the chorus of cheers that echo "Go Canada Go!" at Curling, but refuse to follow the lone man booing our opponents. It is the appreciation in the eyes of pedestrians walking along the waterfront, soaking in the beauty of the North Shore mountains.

I think that being Canadian is understanding that you don't have to compromise peace while fighting for your beliefs, and that culture - in every form - is a cause for celebration. It is a youthful sense of inquisitiveness. Most of all, however, I think that being Canadian means that you can be who you want to be, that you can take your Canadian identity, and shape it into whatever the world is in need of.
No wonder there are so many fans out there.

Now I want to know what you think! Comment and tell me what it means to you to be Canadian.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Students Live On CBC

Day 11

Check out Students Live on CBC!

"BC Girl" Blogs About The Games

Day 11

As a beginner when it comes to using social media for reporting, and an avid olympic fan myself, the story of Andrea Kay comes as great inspiration. This self described "BC Girl" set out on a mission exactly 311 days ago - to blog daily about the exciting changes occuring in Vancouver in the 210 days leading up to The Games.

Since then, her popular has taken the internet by storm, attracting about 26,000 hits per week, and she continues to faithfully blog each day, adding to her growing legion of fans.

After hearing her story on Global TV, I took an immediate trip to Andrea's blog, and was definitely impressed by the quality and quantity of the entries - detailing everything from coins and pins, to freebies and mascots, to breaking news stories and the spirit of olympism.

Through a chain of friendly e-mails, Andrea answered some questions for me about her experiences blogging about The Games. The optimism and cheer that earned her thousands of fans, showing clearly in each of her answers.

1. What excites you about The Olympic Games? Why blog about them?
The Olympic and Paralympic Games bring the world together to celebrate sport but it has the added benefit of allowing us to all look past our differences and celebrate culture and differences as well. I started blogging so that I would be involved in Vancouver 2010 every day. It would be very easy to miss it all, just through indifference, by having to write I couldn't miss a thing.

2. What do you love about Vancouver? Why is it the perfect place to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games?
Vancouver is laid back, beautiful, friendly and welcoming. We have the ocean, forests and mountains. We really are Sea to Sky country and there aren't many cities in the world that can say the same.

3. Why is it important to you to be a part of The Games?
Vancouver 2010 is a once in a lifetime experience. There is almost no chance that an event like this will be held in my hometown again in my lifetime. I had to be involved!

4. What advantages does blogging have over traditional media?
For me the biggest advantage is that I am allowed to have a lot more freedom of expression and opinion. I still believe in the traditional roles of journalists, particularly in print, but also in television and radio. I believe journalists are supposed to present facts, not opinions. Unfortunately it is rare to find this nowadays, and I am constantly disappointed by it.
With blogging I'm honest and upfront about my bias. I am presenting my opinions but that is clear and I think that is very important.

5. What differences (if any) do you see in the use of social media for reporting on these games as opposed to past games?
Nearly everyone has constant access to the internet now. Social media means that photos, recordings and stories are shared in real time, instead of delayed as is regularly seen in mainstream media. With nearly everyone reporting very little is missed. I imagine this will continue to accelerate with the London 2012 games.

6. What kind of legacy do you think will be left after Vancouver 2010? What kind of legacy are you hoping to achieve with your blog?
VANOC has ensured that we have infrastructure and cultural legacies that will remain after the Games, and I believe that the Canada Line is a truly significant part of that.
For myself, I'm not sure I'm trying to achieve a 'legacy' with my blog. It really has a limited shelf-life and will likely fade to nothing within a month or so of the closing of the Paralympic Games. What I gain however is a body of work behind me that I hope to use as a launching pad into similar writing in the future. Possibly with future Olympics or if not, then some new writing adventure of my own.

7. Lastly, I was wondering if you had any tips on using social media in general - how do you get people to notice, read, and follow your blog? In your experience, what makes a blog effective or ineffective?
Be upfront about what you're writing. You will gain a following of like-minded people, but only if you are clear about what you're writing about. And be patient. It takes time to build a name for yourself, it does not happen overnight, there is no magic formula. Take advantage of all the different tools available, such as Twitter and Facebook to reach people you otherwise wouldn't necessarily reach. But really, time is the biggest thing. My first few weeks I was getting fewer than 100 hits per week, now I'm up around 26,000. It takes time and dedication.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Day 10

A taste of the nightlife downtown during the Games.

Tonight is written and performed by Elizabeth Boey and Tyler Shaw.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"A beautiful, beautiful, night."

Day 9

The Orpheum. For Vancouverites, this gilded building is well known as one of the finest concert venues around town. It is intimate, elegant, and has hosted symphonies and rockstars in near-equal numbers. Last night, Montreal's popular Stars and their special guests Hey Rosetta!, paid a visit, as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Hey Rosetta! brought the house to a standing ovation that roared on for minutes after they exited the stage, guitars in hand, the echoes of their song A Thousand Suns still rebounding thank-yous off the Orpheum's walls. Stars entered to more thunderous applause, throwing white roses into the audience throughout their stunning performance, and featuring several new songs from an upcoming album.

If encountering these bands from the steats in the Orpheum is stunning, however, the experience from backstage is infinitely more so.

After pulling a couple strings, Christina Adams, VANOC's Manager of Education Programs and frequent Students Live chaperone, lead us outside, around a corner, and backstage through a heavily guarded door. There, giddy with excitement, we practically skipped through a narrow hallway and to the dressing rooms, brainstorming questions along the way.

In the dim light of Hey Rosetta!'s dressing room, we suddenly found ourselves chatting with Amy Millan, singer and guitarist of Stars and Tim Baker, lead singer of Hey Rosetta!. After introductions and a reenactment of being drunkenly rejected from the Dutch House, Millan excused herself, retreating to her own dressing room, and Baker led us into the quieter area at the back of the room for an interview.

Sitting on a little wooden chair, he described his awe at The Orpheum."This building, it seems like it could maybe only exist somewhere like Vancouver." He mused, gesturing around him."I didn't even know that these kind of places existed."

"The whole town is a buzz." He continued, describing the atmosphere in the theatre and the Cultural Olympiad. "There's so much more going on than you might imagine."

We asked him how he thought Canadian music stands up on an international level, and he praised what Canada has to offer. "You know, we've toured all across Canada, and most of my favourite bands are ones we've toured with." The proof of that was in his obvious admiration for the night's headlining act.

Reflecting on the evening, Tim smiled."It was a beautiful, beautiful night."

I think it's safe to say that everybody else at the Orpheum agreed.

Photos and Videos from February 19th

Day 9

Photo and video highlights from yesterday!

The Stanley Cup
Getting interviewed by CBC's Theresa Lalonde!
Watch for Student's Live on CBC this Monday
between 6:00 and 6:30

Crowds at Waterfront

The Czech and Latvian Men prepare to play

Czech Republic vs. Latvia

Some Latvian fans

Chatting with Czech Snowboarder, Michal Novotny at the hockey game