Volunteering, all the way from Turkey, to represent the Philippines

Kyle Christian Manajero (PHI), a Filipino volunteer at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. (Pietro Montanarella/ IOC Young Reporter)

LILLEHAMMER, Feb 16 — There may be no Filipino young athletes in the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), but the Philippines is well-represented in the games.

Amid the hustle and bustle of the Learn and Share area, Kyle Christian Manajero (PHI), a student studying in Turkey, flew all the way to Norway to be part of the YOG.

“Even though there are no Filipino athletes here, I volunteered to represent my country — to let people know that I’m a true Filipino and to show the hospitality of Filipinos,” the 19-year-old said.

“I volunteered because I want to improve my volunteering skills, to meet other people from other countries, and also to help athletes and coaches,” he added.

Volunteers in Lillehammer pay for their own travel and accommodation arrangements during the games.

Manajero said he spent $500 to fly to Norway from Turkey. He found a Filipina migrant in Øyer to host him for his stay.

“It’s worth it. I learn a lot. It’s great to meet new people and build strong connections with athletes and coaches,” he added.

According to Marina Staubo, manager of the volunteer programme for the YOG, the number of international volunteers in the games is overwhelming with over 80 countries represented in the 3,280 volunteers in Lillehammer.

“I’ve been so amazed and I’ve had been in contact with so many amazing people. The volunteers are the ones doing everything we’ve planned. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to execute everything you see around today,” Staubo said.

“I think people come here to be part of the whole Olympic experience because it’s been 22 years since Norway hosted the Olympics. It’s something different and something big,” she added.

Aside from international volunteers, many schools in Lillehammer and nearby areas also have students volunteering for the games.

“I really hope that all the volunteers who come here get to experience what sport means to youth and how sport and culture can be merged together in a very, very fine way. We really want people to take the spirit of Lillehammer and spread it to the world,” Staubo said.

As for Manajero, he said there’s much to look forward to in Lillehammer.

“I want to know more about how the games go, so when I go back to my home country, I can share what I learnt from here and hold volunteer activities.”

By David Lozada, IOC Young Reporters (IOC Young Reporters)

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