After two weeks at the 2004 Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, I definitely feel I've gleaned not only a better understanding of the purpose and pride of the Games, but also a new insight into the world around me.
So, in one final Reporter's Notebook from the Games, I'd like to share the Top 10 Reasons the Trip to the Games was Cool:
10. I got paid to hang out at sports events and eat fabulous food. Busy though it was, I had a blast and felt like a real reporter, working on intense deadlines every day.
9. I stood on top of billions of dollars worth of oil, without entering the political upheaval of the Middle East. The knowledge that the largest oil reserve in the world is in Canada, not the war torn Middle East puts a whole new perspective on that whole Iraq war thing.
8. I watched young kids prove resilience beyond imagination. The image of teenagers skating at top speed, slipping on the ice and slamming into a wall, only to get up and keep going, is proof of the dedication and tenacity of the human spirit.
7. Did I mention the food?
6. A collection of metal pins that four apartments from now likely will seem like junk has a really cool significance at the moment.
5. I have an excuse for all the times random accents and dialects slip into my vocabulary. So stop laughing when I say "eh" or "a-boat."
4. Competition has its place, but it can come with plenty of sportsmanship, as well. The kids at the Games managed to compete on an international level, fight for their trophies and still show the kindness and heart to hug and high-five their opponents.
3. I learned people actually eat fried cod tongues. And I thanked God that I don't have to.
2. Canadian politeness is a stereotype that's both true and appreciated. Though it may cause a few traffic jams, it also brings the heart-lifting elation that comes with a waitress calling you "my dear" or "my love."
1. The Games is an opportunity for people from the North to celebrate a common heritage and world experience. In a week of both competition and camaraderie, athletes and spectators crossed borders, putting politics, nationalism and differences aside, to show allegiance and pride in their region of the world.
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