Olympic Spirit South African Style

Aimee-Lee Nash is from Capetown, South Africa. She moved to Japan in 2017 to study Kyokushin Karate and experience Japanese culture, Things that have fascinated her for a long time. During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, she is working in Press Services.

“One thing that really surprised me about living in Japan was that everything here works. If someone says they will be at your home at 5:00, they will be there at 4:55. I love that.”

When she came to Japan, she initally found a job teaching in high school. Now she teaches in a kindergarten. As a Karate practitioner, it is no surprise that she loves teaching and lighting up the lives of those kids.

When she decided to volunteer for the Tokyo Olympics, she considered it an incredible opportunity to be part of an amazing global event. “I grew up in sport, and my parents were part of many sporting events. So I would tag along and help out,” she explained about her previous volunteer experiences.

Her mom organized the start of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and she grew up helping at the event. The Cape Town Cycle Tour has been run for more than 40 years. It is a 109km event that typically has 40,000 riders, from professionals to weekend strollers. Cyclist gather to compete and raise money for local charities. “It is exciting seeing events like this come together’ Aimee-Lee explains. ‘People singing and excited. It’s really a cool experience to be part of.”

Beyond her participation in the Cape Town Cycle Tour Aimee-Lee has volunteered at triathlons, other cycling events, marathons, and Karate tournaments. Her experience will be beneficial in her role on the Press Operations team at team cycling events. In that role, she will assist international photographers. Her responsibilities include ensuring photographers and their assistants comply with social distancing requirements, direct them to their posts, and confirm that they have what they need to do their work smoothly.

“I am really excited. I think it is going to be an amazing event,” she explained when asked about her expectations. “History will happen, and records will be broken. I have really high hopes. I am nervous (that I will do a good job) but mostly super excited.”

“Karate is debuting this year, so that is really great, and I am looking forward to that as well.

When asked about the volunteer experience, she replied, “It is really exciting to be here despite it being highly controversial at this time. The Olympics is not just about the sport, but it also brings people together. It is an opportunity for people to come together in unity, especially at this time. Spirits need to be lifted. The Olympics will be a great opportunity to lift spirits, change mindsets and celebrate what the athletes are doing.”

“All the volunteers and people coming together to create this event,’ she added, ‘is going to be powerful. Being part of a team and working so hard, putting your heart and soul into something, and seeing what it can be at the end. It is really exciting. It has been a long time since I’ve worked as part of a team. I’m looking forward to it and that’s saying a lot for an introvert like me”

Being part of a team is something that we miss in these work at home and socially distanced times. My hope, like Aimee-Lee’s, is that the Olympics will rekindle a sense of international unity, as we experience the drama and spectacle of the games. I expect that they will provide us, volunteers, a chance to create memories, for ourselves and those we serve, that last a lifetime.

First Published on Medium.com June 18, 2021