Tuesday 12 Aug, 2008

EF at the Olympics

The start of the Beijing Olympics has been riveting—from the glorious Opening Ceremony to Michael Phelps’ pursuit of history.

Now, three EF staff members will get to see the Olympics in person. As the Official Language Training Services Supplier of the Beijing
2008 Olympic Games, EF Education First is sending a handful of employees worldwide to the Games this week and next.

In the United States, EF Educational Tours held an essay contest for
employees to nominate their colleagues based on
dedication, teamwork and inspiration. Just a few weeks ago, three
winners—Hannah Lobdell, Janis Riss and Katie Sullivan—were selected
to represent EF at the Olympics.

They will be met in Beijing by EF’s
Olympics ambassador and two-time medalist Cristina Teuscher. Janis and Katie already had the opportunity to hear Cristina speak about her own Olympics experience.

Hannah, Janis and Katie will find out which Olympic events they’ll
be attending once they arrive this week in Beijing. Here are their thoughts about winning a trip to China and attending the Olympic Games:

HANNAH LOBDELL


EF position:
Tour consultant for EF College Study Tours in Boston

On being selected: “To say I was shocked is an
understatement. My mom’s reaction was my favorite—I called her as soon
as I found out, and all I heard was gasping on the other end of the
phone. She finally choked out that she was so excited she couldn’t
speak!”

On her expectations: “I know I’m going to be blown away. I’ve
never been anywhere in Asia and can’t wait to experience the dynamics
of the Chinese culture. I’m not expecting anything specific—I’m just so
looking forward to having this brand-new, mind-blowing,
once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

On which events she’d like to see:

“I was a gymnast my whole life and coached as well, so, of course, I’m
dying to see a gymnastics event. But really, seeing any sport at the
Olympic level will be an incredible experience. … Maybe something a
little more unusual like speed-walking. That could be fun.”

On other plans for Beijing: “Of course, we want to see the
Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Silk Street markets. I also am really
looking forward to eating authentic Chinese cuisine.”

On preparing for the trip: “I’m soaking up all the
information I can—on China, on the Olympics, athletes that will be
there. … I’ve learned more about China in the past two weeks than I
ever would have otherwise!”

JANIS RISS


EF position:
Tour consultant in Denver

On being selected: “I was completely shocked and blown away.
I also felt extremely humbled and honored. When I told my mom she said,
‘I think I’m going to cry.’ My family is really excited for me though …
and I think a bit envious.”

On which events she’d like to see: “I used to be a swimmer,
so it would be really interesting to see a swimming event, or
gymnastics. But I think seeing any Olympic event would be pretty
amazing.”

On meeting EF’s Cristina Teuscher: “I think she had all of us
so pulled into her personal narrative that we could almost feel some of
her experiences. She was great! Now, I feel like I have an insight into
what Olympians have gone through their whole lives and into what they
are going through at the moment of their event. It will make seeing
them perform that much more meaningful.”

On other plans for Beijing: “I would love to see the
biggies—the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I’ve
always wanted to go to China, though, so seeing anything will be great.”

On preparing for the trip: “Well, I’ve definitely been
reading and researching a lot about the Olympics and China, and trying
to learn a bit of Chinese. Also, my co-workers in the Denver office
were nice enough to put our little ‘Jing-Jing’ Olympic mascot on my
desk. Now, they want me to bring back tons of ‘Jing-Jing’ paraphernalia
for everyone in the office.”

KATIE SULLIVAN


EF position:
Online marketing coordinator (and formerly a tour consultant) in Boston

On being selected: “I’d never felt my heart beat so hard in
my life. It still doesn’t feel like I’m actually going. My family was
in disbelief, and they are extremely excited for me. My dad calls me
about every other day with a new article he’s cut out for me about
Beijing and the Games.”

On her expectations: “I truly don’t know what to expect other
than lots of people. I’ve never been to Asia before, so this will be an
entirely new culture on top of the fact that I’ll be attending the
Olympics.”

On which events she’d like to see: “I would love to see swimming and gymnastics, but even table tennis would be pretty fascinating.”

On meeting EF’s Cristina Teuscher: “She was incredible, and
one of my first thoughts after winning (the trip) was that I’d get to
meet her again over there. Her speech at EF was truly inspiring, I
wanted to stand up and cheer.”

On preparing for the trip: “Beyond applying for my Visa and
constantly reading new articles or watching YouTube links that people
have passed along to me, not much. I would like to get my hands on a
giant styrofoam #1 finger if that’s possible.”

Photo: keso via Flickr (license)