Yesterday (March 21st) on the first Spring day, I went for my induction training as an Ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games being held in the UK. Up until now, it had not seem real since I applied to be involved in the Games in late 2010.
I did not know what I was letting myself in for when I was interviewed for the role, in August, 2011. In fact, I was a bit apprehensive at the time because Britain is an ageist society, especially against older women. You won't find many of them in the choice jobs that matter, so I was not sure how much being 63 would count against me. Even more daunting, 34,000 people from all walks of life expressed an interest to fill 8,000 positions. As rusty as my Maths were, I worked out that there were four applicants to every post! But I didn't care. The main requirement of Ambassadors were people skills, and I had that in abundance, so I left it in the lap of the gods.
In September I was informed that I had passed the grilling (designed to weed out the mercenary and insincere!). I wasted no time spreading the good news to my circle and began the mental preparation for it. The last four years had been racked with illness so, apart from the odd speaking engagement, this was the first time I was really pushing myself out to see if I could cope. It would need a new mindset.
As I wrote in my first blog about it on January 4th, exhorting my Newsvine friends to come to Britain:
My duties are not onerous. London Ambassadors range from 16 to 85 years old, and reflect the diversity of the UK. They are there to meet and greet people attending the Games, and to provide information about Olympic activities, where required. Naturally, there will be some intense training in the coming months to help us appear savvy and knowledgeable.
There are three hectic training days altogether and, apparently, after the final one, you are ceremoniously dubbed an Ambassador for the Olympics in front of your peers. Already there have been some very fine tweets sent from some rather proud, newly created Ambassadors.
The training day proved not too onerous. I learnt a lot about the chain of command for Ambassadors, the importance of our uniform and security badges, and the kind of questions we are likely to be asked - especially the most popular one, and the various cultural words for it!! We also learned about the eye-popping security that would be involved and the exact role we would have regarding it all.
Two things were pretty clear:
1. The incredible organisation furiously going on in the background to make the 2012 Olympic Games a success.
2. The sheer enthusiasm of those involved and the determination to make it work.
There were around 40 people on my training day representing all ages - from 16-70, and both genders adequately, as well as the cultural diversity of the UK. One felt really proud to be a part of such an inclusive endeavour. I even had a smile when I was asked to repeat my date of birth by the guy checking my passport because he said the way I looked did not match the date of birth! I wasn't complaining! :o)
I returned home feeling pretty shattered, but with a great sense of achievement, in view of my ongoing illness.
The next training will be in April, at Stratford International Station where the Games will be held, and I cannot wait to see the complex. In fact, it is really beginning to feel rather exciting, if not daunting!