This summer London becomes the sport and cultural capital of the world. Here every nation can showcase to the diverse audience what is special about it. Russia Park and Sochi Park are meeting points in lovely Kensington Gardens where all interested can discover how the modern Russian Federation prepares for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, how the regions of Russia differ and why excelling in sport plays a big part of Russian identity.
Sochi Park is an interactive experience pavilion where guided tours start every 15 minutes during the London 2012 Games. In the short welcoming film the audience hears about the multicultural imagery of Russia and setting up of sport venues for 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi. Sochi is located in Krasnodar Region and boasts with subtropical climate, given the fact it shares the same latitude as French Rivera. However, apart from being on the coast of the Black Sea, Sochi benefits from the proximity to the mountains as the snow height reaches 200cms, quite enough for winter sports at the Olympic and Paralympic level. In the next rooms, visitors can hear from Sochi Park hosts and volunteers about business and travel opportunities in Sochi, while collecting materials and forging contacts. Price Waterhouse Coopers has defined Krasnodar region in its Investment Guide as the third region with the greatest return on investment after Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
In the Russian Railways zone, visitors can go inside the train and experience on the interactive screens how regional and international Railways will function during the Sochi 2014 Games. Also, they can track the progress of venues being built. The Olympic Park is now 70% completed and is due to be finished by the end of 2012. In the next zones visitors can see presentations in tourism and energy sector, provided by Sberbank and Ros-Neft. Also, Megafon, a notable telecommunication company, has created interactive hockey and skiing games for the visitors, whereas DOW, Olympic Games Worldwide partner and a leading chemical company showcases the different official Sochi 2014 equipment. Visitors can try on being inside the bob sledge or wearing diverse gear: for hockey, snowboarding or ice skating before proceeding to 4D cinema that takes them interactively to the competition venues.
Now let’s hear what Russia.Sochi Park volunteers and team leaders say about the project. Anna Poronik, coordinator of volunteers finds the project especially interesting from the point of view of risk management and volunteer coordination since the initial idea of charging entry tickets at the venues had to be modified to meet the visitors’ demand. With her team Anna had to ensure that there is enough volunteers when more visitors started to discover the parks and the entrance was paid only for Ice Show, the superb evening performance of Russian Olympic and World Championship in ice skating. ‘‘Volunteer team should be in a particular mood and this must be consistent especially that we have different guides from different countries. Our volunteers indeed connect to each other, from different sides of Russia and parts of the world.’’ In terms of motivation, Anna reveals couple of secrets. ‘‘We listen to volunteers’ feedback and we managed to improve the quality and quantity of their meals. Our volunteers are entitled to unlimited amount of water and soft drinks during their shifts. Also, we give them every day diverse presents related to Sochi 2014 Games and any available tickets we receive for competitions.’’ Anna also recalls how she started working for Organising Committee of Sochi 2014; she was previously the accreditation manager in Moscow at several major sporting and cultural events and 2009 Eurovision. Once this job finished, she thought of her next endeavour: working in the accreditation field again or working with volunteers on project implementation. She decided to go for the projects with volunteers and in September 2012 there will be three years since she is involved.
Then at the first pavilion we meet Mariya Anischenko, the Russia.Sochi.Park volunteer. She studied architecture at Ivanova State University and she will move to Sochi in order to work at construction sites and venues in autumn 2012 for Olympic Committee Sochi. ‘‘I am very glad about this upcoming working opportunity and now I travelled specially to London to experience test events for volunteers at Russia.Sochi.Park. Mariya tells us that her main motivation as a volunteer is getting intercultural exposure. ‘‘All volunteers are truly interesting people and I got many friends and acquaintances.’’ In terms of her volunteer roles Mariya is quite satisfied. ‘‘First I was the torch bearer at the pavilion and I help people take photos with the torch and as they tried out the Sochi 2014 equipment and sport gear. Now I mostly help out in VIP arena and interact with athletes and sport and business officials as a guide.’’
One of the crucial people behind the project is Artem Dudin, the coordinator of volunteers who has only praise for Russia.Sochi.Park volunteers. ‘‘Having Russia.Sochi.Park during London 2012 Games is the extremely useful preparation for Sochi 2014. Practically all work is done by volunteers and I take this opportunity to thank them for everything and to say sorry for any inconveniences during the project as not everything is within our scope and responsibility.’’ Artem is impressed by diverse cultures and origins of Russia Sochi. Park volunteers and how they tackle everyday situations in the pavilion. Still, he emphasizes how our Canadian colleague Eric Wah sets an example for other volunteers as he helps out in particular and with little supervision.
London 2012 Olympic games are finished in a spectacular way, the Paralympic ones are underway and the countdown to Sochi 2014 continues. Experience from Russia.Sochi Park becomes invaluable for 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games, whereas new international friendships will continue in all different parts of the world. See you in Sochi!