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."