The Olympics have been my one true love since before I can remember, and became my ultimate career goal when I discovered that the US Olympic Committee has internships for college students. When it came time to pick where I wanted to study abroad, it was only natural to head to London, one of my favorite cities in the world AND the location of the next Olympics. What could be better?!
I was excited enough to just be in the city as it prepared to host the Olympics, but when I found volunteer applications online, my tunnel vision kicked in and I was determined to make it happen for myself. I went through the long, ridiculous, expensive process to get myself a student visa that would allow me to work, applied, and crossed my fingers.
I was contacted by the casting department of London 2012 Ceremonies, the company that’s in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They invited me in for an interview, where I spent the whole thing pinching myself. I was interviewing with London 2012. A few days later, I got the email that told me I’d been accepted!
The casting department deals with the performers in the ceremonies, from auditions through the actual performances. Wearing a snazzy high-visibility vest with “Casting Team” emblazoned across the back, I got to sit at one of the desks that every single performer had to pass by when they arrived on site. I input their data into the database when they arrived for auditions, handed out official ID badges when they started attending rehearsals, sorted bibs that everyone has to wear to designate their number and performance group, helped the staff with whatever office tasks they needed me for, and so much more. It was awesome.
I also got to watch everything that was going on. I basically live and die by the Opening Ceremony, so I had to hold back tears every time I got to see rehearsals. Spotting Danny Boyle, Oscar-winning movie director and director of the Opening Ceremony, was a regular occurrence, and I was able to see presentations on what the full ceremonies are going to look like in addition to seeing individual groups rehearse. Nobody has high hopes, but I promise you they’re going to be amazing!
But the best part was joining such an amazing family. The other volunteers and the staff are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, and they work 12+ hours nearly every day to make everything happen. I was devastated to have to leave when my study abroad time was over, but I’m so proud to have been a part of that team and I know the ceremonies are in the most capable hands in the world!
I have to watch the ceremonies from home and I know it’ll hurt like hell to not be there. But I followed my dream and it turned out better than I ever could’ve imagined. Rio 2016 or bust!
And consider this your official PSA that the Opening Ceremony is on in a month from today, and that you should totally watch it.
How are you making YOUR dreams happen?