The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London have undeniably captivated the world, and one Syracuse University staff member is doing her part to make this truly global-scale event in her home city a success.
Since the games began last week, Ria Bourne, Assistant Director of SU’s center in London, has been volunteering her time to serve as a “Games Maker”, one of the 70,000 brightly-clad, cheerful volunteers helping attendees find seats, providing directions & information, and ensuring spectators have a safe and enjoyable time.
“It’s been such an amazing experience to be a part of the games – especially since they are happening essentially in my backyard!” said Bourne, who lives in West London and commutes to the Olympic Park in the East London neighborhood of Stratford to volunteer.
She was originally selected out of a pool of over 240,000 applicants to serve as an Event Services Team Member at the Copper Box, home to the 7,000-seat venue for handball and modern pentathlon.
But she quickly found out that she would be taking on much more responsibility.
“When I arrived on my first day of volunteering,” recalls Bourne, “it turned out that our team was one Team Leader short, so I stepped up and have been a leader ever since.” As a Team Leader, Bourne manages a team of 6-10 fellow volunteers at the venue.
Besides developing an appreciation for handball – a sport of which she was previously completely unaware – Bourne has reveled in the overwhelmingly positive spirit surrounding the games. She’s seen hundreds of Norwegian fans donning (and banging) cowbells, welcomed UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and the new Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton to the handball venue, and heard the her national anthem being played at the nearby Olympic Stadium for UK track & field athlete Jessica Ennis’s heptathlon gold.
Bourne has worked for SU London since 2010, and started her role as the center’s Assistant Director earlier this year. Among her many responsibilities is coordinating new student orientation, and when the Fall 2012 group of SU London students arrive in early September, Bourne will be able to regale them with stories from her amazing Olympic experience.