Last week as a skier came flying down one of Whistler’s steepest slopes, one of the Olympic announcers said, “She’s said what she really wants is to be a part of an Olympic montage.”
She was not ashamed to say she wanted to have one of those moments – when her country, or perhaps even the world, could embrace her? The flag-draped smiling image could also serve to freeze a tiny slice of her youth. It would be one of those pivotal moments that speaks volumes and is about more than skiing faster or jumping higher.
Who wouldn’t want to have one of those moments and be part of an Olympic montage?
Defining memorable moments aren’t reserved for the world’s greatest athletes. Sometimes, even parents of non-Olympians recognize the moments that the rest of the world will never see but serve as defining moments of our children’s lives and our relationships with our children.
The rites of passage.
The thrill of victory.
The agony of defeat.
Last week when I returned home after nearly a week away with my 8-year-old daughter, I noticed that my 12-year-old daughter looked older, more mature. She was just back from a very non-Olympic figure skating outing with a friend. Complete with the tiny earphone wire dangling from one ear, she had crossed some adolescent threshold.
In the time since I returned home, she and I have talked a lot about her plans for this weekend. She’s taking a much-anticipated trip with her church youth group. It’s a trip that has some international flavorings slightly reminiscent of an Olympic village, but none of the flair. By the time you read this, she and her youth group and their leaders will have spent two nights sleeping on the ground in less-than-luxurious conditions in the mountains of Arkansas completing the Global Challenge at Heifer Ranch.
Heifer Ranch is one of the educational branches of Heifer International, the non-profit organization whose mission it is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. Heifer does this by providing appropriate livestock, training and related services to small-scale farmers and communities worldwide.
Each of the Lafayette teens, almost-teens and the adult chaperones will spend the weekend with meager accommodations that resemble the conditions various third-world poor, perhaps from Guatemala, Thailand, Zambia and places closer to home, face on a daily basis. Resources are limited and require some sharing. The adults step back and let the youth handle the decision-making and the responsibilities of finding and preparing food and doing other necessary chores. The goal of the challenge is that participants will develop self-esteem, problem solving and teamwork, while connecting with a community working to end hunger and poverty. The experience has the potential to change lives and create more global cultural awareness.
For me, the best part of the Olympic experience is the opportunity for a similar shared global cultural awareness. Watching the international community come together and share a moment.