Follow my journey as a Students Live reporter through the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Day of Culture

Biscuits and tea anyone?

My day was spent with a group of 5 highschool students from London, England. They are here with a group called A New Direction which is very similar to the Students Live group, only a quarter of the size.

As fun as it was sharing our experience reporting, I think what was even better yet was exchanging our differences in language. We say elevator, they say lift. We say truck, they say lorry. We had a blast comparing our lingo, and our cultural differences. People think between Canada and England there is not a lot of differences, but after sharing our stories today, I have learned otherwise. We discovered the schools in England are a lot more strict than here in Canada. At a public school there, you wear a strict uniform and it is forbidden to use an ipod.

An interesting topic we got started on was; what comes to mind when we think of London, and vice versa. To the English kids, Canada reminded them of maple leaves, and to us when we thought of London, the first thing that came to mind was the Queen. It turns out, they don't even know all that much about the Queen after all. They learned that we don't live in igloos here, and we don't drink drink maple syrup or have pet polar bears. And did you know they don't play quidditch in England... who would have thought?

Other than our English language differences, we also talked about the Paralympic Games (you know what we were supposed to be discussing). Both groups admitted that we weren't all that knowledgeable about the Paralympic Games before they happened, but we are learning so much and having a great time. We know that Vancouver has been the best yet to try to promote the Paralympic Games as well as the Olympics, but we are all hoping London will take it even one step further. The students were saying how there hasn't been many signs and posters up in London yet, but like here they will probably start to get more advertisement and excitement withing a year of their start.

A highlight of my day was speaking with Sarah Hunter, a Canadian Wheelchair tennis player. She was so down to earth and willing to talk to us, but in hind sight, it was probably a little intimidating for her. There were about 20 of us surrounding her and interrogating her with questions. She was so good with her words and relaxed infront of the camera that we talked to her for quite a long time. She expressed how it annoys her when people slow down their speach or talk to her like she's a child just because she's in a wheelchair. And how some people don't even consider her an athlete, when truthfully the Paralymic athletes are more amazing and inspiring than the Olympic ones. She told us about how hard it is to travel with her wheelchair equipment, as airplanes often destroy her wheelchairs and won't replace it; but aside from that she can no longer compete in the competition as each wheelchair is specialized and you can't just go out and buy one that works for you. It made me think how there is so much more to the athletes than you see, the everyday troubles they have to overcome and how they are still so strong, it's amazing!

Following that interview at LiveCity, we took the Londoners to visit the Canadian Mint. This was my second time visiting, but this time it was located at the Vancouver Public Library. The history of the medals never seize to amaze me, and everytime I learn something new. Did you know there were 625 Olympic medals made and 399 Paralympic medals made, and each and every one of them is unique.

At the Mint we also talked to a policeman who is from Ottawa but working here for the Games. He said how there were 4000 cops brought in from all over North America, and how he met so many new people. No wonder there were about 8 cops at every street corner. He said his favourite part was how he was always working with someone and was never alone like on his usual job. He told us his job is a lot less crazy now that the Olympic Games are over, but it's still a lot of fun.

Our last stop of the day was at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron, only my tenth visit there, yet everytime I can't resist a photo. I wonder what is going to happen to the Cauldron after the Games, I hope it stays up as a city souvenir.