IOAs session for unge 2008 – Address on behalf of the Young Participants

Address on behalf of the Young Participants 48th Session

Dean Kostantinos Georgiadis, Coordinators, Young Participants

Dear Friends!

First I will like to thank the President of the IOA, you Dean Kostantinos, the staff on the Olympic Academy, and all you wonderful coordinators. You have all made our stay here possible and have given us an experience for life.

It is my honour to stand here and represent the voices of people from all continents and from many different cultures. How can I fully express the views of so many in such a short time? To this question I will now try to find the answer…

I will start my story in Athens where our introductions to each other and questions were many, but our interests were the same! We wanted to know who we were going to spend the next fourteen days with. Connecting the names of people and their countries became the first step of this journey. Geographical awareness and misconceptions were many. Some of you have learned that Denmark not is capital in Holland, but actually is a country, and other have learned that Sweden not is Switzerland.

Together we have experienced many good times in the lecture hall, in the discussion groups, at the social evenings, the beach and especially at Zorbas. We have discussed the concepts of olympism and practiced some of the rituals of the ancient games for example the stadium run with or without clothes. Great conversation, sharing of cultural differences and similarities have been part of our Academy experience. It was brought to my attention the similarities of this place to the paralympic village, not because of all the injuries that were sustained, but rather for the friendship between participants.

The forest fire last year was a devastating loss to this area and the academy. We see its reminder in the barren land, and lack of vegetation. However, I think it is important to notice that the buildings survived and along with it – the spirit of the Olympic traditions. We are part of the future of this movement and it seems fitting to have witnessed the planting of trees that will grow into the future.

Today I have brought a present from my Sri Lankin friend. As many of you likely cannot see…it is just a little elephant. The elephant itself isn’t terribly significant or valuable in a monetary sense, but despite its small size, the elephant expresses a unique history – that comes from the act of sharing. It becomes a valuable reminder of the person and this Olympic experience. We have exchanged pins, clothes and lots of meaningful items. Each of these items tells a story and is a symbol of new friendships and of the connections we have made here together.

In other words – the world has become smaller to us in a symbolic way.

I now return to my question of how do I speak for so many on this experience. The answer is that I cannot, but I can encourage you to take with you the inspiration you have undoubtedly felt through the course of this program. It is a question which can only be answered individually, and that is the next challenge. I have told my story of how I will remember the past 14 days, and of course we will all tell our own stories to our friends and families upon our return – but one thing that we shared together, is that we all have declared that we will actively promote the values and ideals of the Olympic movement in our daily lives. So as we prepare to say goodbye to one another, be confident that this is not an ending – but rather the beginning of a new chapter for each of us individually and as a group as part of the Olympic community.

I would like to thank each of you for the moments we have had together which will remain engraved in my memory and my heart.

Thank you!

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