Ruthie Rogers has been a Legacy Foundation Japan member since March 2021. She shares with us a first-person account of what it was like becoming an Olympic volunteer. This is the first of two parts in her Olympic adventure. All views expressed are her own.
For the majority of my life, I lived in the United States and watched the Olympics on television. I never dreamed of attending, much less volunteering for them.
I moved to Japan in 2004. In 2013, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Tokyo would host the Summer Olympics and Paralympics. This time around, being a part of it somehow seemed more attainable. I thought at my age, now 70 years old, this might be my first and last opportunity to volunteer for any Olympics. I was determined to volunteer for both the City Cast, sponsored by the city and, the Field Cast, sponsored by the Tokyo Olympic Committee. I figured that I would get a bite from at least one (note: City Cast volunteers welcome and support spectators while Field Cast volunteers provide support at competition venues and in the Olympic Village).
As it turned out, both groups accepted my application and invited me to screenings and training. It was a little confusing because their training was identical. The venue, located in the Yurakucho district, was well organized. University students assisted the applicants with the interview process. There was also intermittent e-learning. They placed us in teams and gave us exercises to demonstrate our teamwork and effort. I was the diversity during this process. After the team exercises, there was a video and presentation.
During any given time, there were hundreds maybe even thousands going through the interview process. We moved like a herd of cattle. Fortunately, I had an escort because of my slight disability. There were one-to-one interviews that lasted no more than ten minutes. This was followed by a uniform fitting. The precision and time for this process were remarkable. The planning was down to a science. Each uniform fitting had its area—shoes, pants, vest, jacket, hat, you name it. We could try on and take off items until we found the right fit. After our interview, an ID picture was taken, but I was told not to smile. This was serious business but more importantly, it aligned with Japanese culture.
As it turned out I wound up being assigned to the Field Cast. We were allowed to state our preferences. I chose to volunteer for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
The day ended with a trip to a souvenir shop set up at the interview venue. I went home with an assortment of items and waited for my next instructions.
Stay tuned for part two! Coming soon!