Our PyeongChang Olympic preparation experience started with a visit to the ice rink where the curling competitions will take place and a brief introduction to the facilities. The fun, laughter, shouts, and some tumbling on the ice began to give shape to what would be a trip full of lessons. I stopped at some moment and looked at my friends, some taking their first steps, others with more experience enjoying the ice at a faster speed, and a thought hit me: My classmates, of different countries, ages, and lives, all at the same place due to our passion for sport, sharing our dream in the same place future Olympians will share theirs.

2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Preparation Experience

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ALL OUR DREAMS CAN COME TRUE IF WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO PURSUE THEM (W.D.).

Our PyeongChang Olympic preparation experience started with a visit to the ice rink where the curling competitions will take place and a brief introduction to the facilities. The fun, laughter, shouts, and some tumbling on the ice began to give shape to what would be a trip full of lessons. I stopped at some moment and looked at my friends, some taking their first steps, others with more experience enjoying the ice at a faster speed, and a thought hit me: My classmates, of different countries, ages, and lives, all at the same place due to our passion for sport, sharing our dream in the same place future Olympians will share theirs.

At the end of our experience on the ice, we headed to the PyeongChang Olympic promotion center and visited the facilities that will host the ice hockey, speed skating and the figure skating competitions. We were able to enter the short-track/figure skating facilities and only had to close our eyes to imagine how it would feel to be there during a competition, hearing the crowd cheering, and our hearts began to beat faster as we realized just how close we are to the next Winter Olympic Games. The emotions were so strong that many friends recorded videos to share them in their own countries. Heading back to the bus, we could feel the Olympic excitement throughout the group – the Olympic flame had been ignited in our hearts.

The next day our Olympic experience continued with skiing. The nervousness and enthusiasm was apparent on everyone's faces, and a few of my friends could not hide they were a little bit afraid. A bit of struggle with the equipment, several adjustments, and a few minutes of basic instruction was all that was needed to overcome our fears. One after another, we skied down the practice slope. Some reached the end, others fell somewhere along the route, some quietly and others screaming as if their lives depended on it – but always laughing, either for not being able to stand on their skis, for (accidentally) throwing into the snow those who were trying to help, or for accurately hitting a classmate with a snowball.

Returning to the mountains after lunch brought the long-awaited moment: Our first descent from a real slope, which proved that putting into practice our newly acquired skiing skills, especially being able to stop, was not as easy as we thought – falling, spinning and crashing against our friends was a part of our afternoon on the tracks. In the end, we all survived, although a few of us did leave the slope with well-deserved battle bruises.

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The last day we visited the Cross Country Skiing and Ski Jumping facilities, and a chill ran through my body when I thought how many athletes will compete, cry, suffer, and win there and how all of them will live their Olympic dream in very different ways.

One last stop was the Trout Festival, where we could enjoy ice activities such as snow rafting and bobsled experience, with some of us going so fast we flew past the finish line! Finally, we had a good meal and the bus brought us back to Seoul.

The whole experience was incredible, but it would simply remain a good memory unless we found meaning in it. To see the smiles on my friends’ faces over these three days was a reminder that there are things that cannot be bought, and these are what make our life beautiful. Falling and getting up in each of our activities showed us that what matters is not now many times you fall, but whether you have the will to get up and achieve your goal, and that there is always someone willing to help along the way.

As I think about the upcoming Winter Olympics, I imagine the many dreams that will come true in PyeongChang for athletes, coaches, and their families, and all their hard work, effort, and sacrifice to get there. Suddenly, I realized the enormous responsibility the Dream Together Master Program students have: We can make an athlete’s dream come true, help the world see the smiles of victory and hear the shouts of joy, and help to make Olympic history together. That is the great challenge that I see from this experience – to be able to share the passion for sport and through it foster a new generation of leaders who will transform their environment, their families, their countries, bring up true leaders who will help those in need and, above all this, who are not afraid to dream, fight for those dreams, and achieve them. We must be an example to them, rise after we fall, extend a helping hand to others, work hard to be better people and better sport managers, and never stop dreaming about a better future of sports in our countries, never quitting the fight.