Sochi army takes arms: cheers and handshakes

The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi are still a way off, but already a band of intrepid interpreters are warming up to welcome the thousands of expected visitors to the games in 2014.

In less than three years from now, this army of volunteers will be on Russia’s special dream team, who will provide guidance and translation for all visitors.

Last month was their first big meeting in Sochi, a great chance to get to know each other, to share their stories, their hopes and expectations of the games to come. And to practice the “Cowboy greeting” – a sort of secret hand-shake for the volunteer team.

Andrey is from Moscow; Tatiana is from Southern Russia. He is new to the volunteer movement; while she had her first taste during the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Even though they are generations apart, they are equally excited about the job.

“I’m going to share my experience with fellow volunteers, and with mass media, maybe,”
says Tatiana.

Andrey says: “For me it’s a great chance to improve my language skills; my English and my Chinese.”

Next year part of this group will go to London for the 2012 Summer Games.

“I think one of the pillars of the IOC is that they try to pass on their knowledge of the games from organizing committee to organizing committee. So I fully expect that the Sochi volunteers will learn a huge amount from being part of London 2012,”
believes Andrew Newman from the London 2012 organizing committee.

But chanting and dancing apart, the voluntary helpers are taking on the task of making the games an unforgettable event for all.

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