By: Victoria Harding, Work and Travel Assistant

sochiAs the month of February and the Winter Olympics come to a close, I was struck with the feeling of just how very special the Olympics truly are. Despite the controversy and the politics, there is no event that brings together so many different cultures and countries to celebrate human accomplishment quite like the Olympics. Every two years there seems to be a new controversy surrounding the games, but the concept at the heart of the Olympics has remained the same for thousands of years.

The original Olympics date back to 776 BC. The first games were originally intended to show off the physical accomplishments of young men (women were not allowed to compete) and to encourage unity between the communities of Greece. The original games were done in one day, and included the following sports: running, long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, and equestrian.

The evolution of the games can be viewed as a reflection of how our global outlook has changed. Now there are over 50 Olympic sports spread out over two seasons (winter and summer). Thousands of male and female athletes from 85 countries were represented at Sochi all. Over 98 metals were awarded at Sochi, the most in Olympic history.

What I found most captivating about watching the Olympics in Sochi were the athletic abilities of the men and women, and exploring how extraordinary human achievement can overcome political differences, just as it was meant to in Ancient Greece. The grace and strength of the figure skaters, the daring jumps of the skiers, and the team work of the hockey players and bobsledders, are just a few of the fantastic feats athletes from all over the world achieve during the games.

Emotions ran high in the Women’s Ice Hockey gold medal game when Canada took the gold in overtime. Many people watched in awe as 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova became the first Russian woman to win an Olympic figure skating gold. Even silly moments happened; for example Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic won the gold at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, with a moustache painted on her face. These moments expressed the true meaning of the Olympics to me: a representation of different countries coming together, competing, and celebrating amazing athletes.

At CCI Greenheart, we were lucky enough to watch the opening ceremony together, but it is now after the closing ceremonies, that I am reminded how inline the mission of CCI Greenheart and the Olympics are – we both promote cultural understanding. This mission is at the core of CCI Greenheart and it is the very idea that the Olympics were founded on. I hope that we can all take some small piece of cultural understanding from the Olympics and apply it to our daily lives, our stakeholders, and the mission at CCI Greenheart.