Volunteering at the 2016 Olympic Games: Edith Owusua Ofori'17 shares her experience

While the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio brought together the very best of the world’s athletes, the games depended on the efforts of Edith Owusu Ofori'17 and the 50,000 other volunteers who worked tirelessly week in and week out, in the backstage, to make sure 'the Games' run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

For Edith, playing an active role in the Olympics had always been reserved for wishful thinking. However in 2014, when she found the opportunity to volunteer at the Rio games while searching for an international internship opportunity, she jumped on it. Following several months of interviews and training sessions, she finally got the call inviting her to join the team of volunteers for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“It’s quite hard to describe the feeling,” she said. “I was simply excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Olympics.”

Since the London Games in 1948 when they were first introduced officially, volunteers have always played an integral role in the Olympic games. Volunteers take on a wide variety of roles across the Olympic venues during the Games; from welcoming visitors to helping the medical teams to making sure all technology for the games is up and running.

For the Olympics, Edith worked with the transportation team. She and her team members had to sort out all the transportation logistics at the games. “We made sure that the buses arrived on time for the athletes, their families, the media, and the VIPS,” she explained. “We also had to check for security credentials and helped visitors locate parking spots at the venues.”

Not only was it an opportunity to be part of the world’s biggest sporting event, Edith also had the opportunity to experience different cultures in Brazil, helping to expand her world view. “Initially I thought it would be difficult working with different people from different cultures from all over the world,” said Edith. “However, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. The Brazilians especially were always ready to help us. Once they saw you in the volunteer’s uniform, they were open and willing to give you a helping hand. It was also great to meet new people and learn new things.”

On the back of the volunteering experience, the opportunity has helped Edith put some of her goals into perspective.

“My most fun times were going to the beach with friends and working at the Maracana and Maracanazinho stadia,” said Edith who just started her senior year at Ashesi. “I look forward to pursuing a post graduate degree in Supply Chain management so it was great learning experience having the opportunity to be a part of the team handling the transportation and logistics at the Olympic games.”