Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sara Rendon - Brooks 10k Champions Run

        During the time we have spent here in the Netherlands, I have noticed many differences between Dutch culture and American culture, namely the restaurant mannerisms. In America, we are used to having a very available waiter/waitress. You can count on this person visiting your table several times throughout your meal, checking on your needs. You can also expect the server to bring out the check before you are even finished with your meal. Servers in the Netherlands, however, are not so concerned with this extremely available, fast-paced service. The atmosphere in the restaurants here tends to be more relaxed and slower-paced than in America. Servers do not check on their tables very often and are not eager to deliver the check. At nearly all of the restaurants we have visited during our trip, we had to ask for the check to be delivered to our table. After speaking with a server at Eetcafé Lumière in Utrecht, I learned that servers in the Netherlands are typically paid decent salaries and, therefore, do not have to rely on tips in order to make a living. Tipping is actually not expected in this country. However, if you wish to leave a tip for great service, the common amount is between 5% and 10% of the total bill. In America, minimum wage for servers in many states is only $2.13 per hour, forcing them to rely on tips for a good income. This is why tipping in America is typically 15-20% of the bill.

Today was Day Four of our volunteering experience of the European Athletics Championships [EAC]. The past three days, my group has been working some side events at AV Startbaan. We were able to assist in events for several hundreds of children which mimicked the EAC events that professional athletes were competing in. Our team helped with the javelin throw, shotput, relay, sprints, and long jump. My favorite event was probably sprints because I was able to interact more with the children. For this event, four children at a time competed in a 40 meter dash. Once in their starting positions, the children could expect to hear “on your marks, get set…” followed by a loud noise made by smacking two wooden blocks together. In between sets, I was able to talk to the children and learn some Dutch phrases, such as “goed geddan” meaning “well done,” and “rennen!” meaning “run!”

Today, some of us were given the opportunity to scan tickets at Olympic Stadium. I was initially very excited about this since we would be working at the main event site, but unfortunately the experience did not go as well as anticipated. This is in part due to the language barrier. While most people in the Netherlands speak English as a second language, Dutch is their preferred and most studied language. For the most part, there was not a problem when I asked a Dutch patron for an English translation. However, there were instances in which Dutch natives became frustrated with the fact that the American volunteers only spoke English. Also, we were given a very short briefing before beginning our work which I believe should have been slightly more extensive. We were not properly informed of all stipulations of the various tickets to be scanned, nor was it done in a very timely manner.  It would have been helpful had we been given more information about the ticketing system, perhaps a cheat sheet with the rules for each of the possible ticket varieties.

Tomorrow, we will be working the Brooks 10K Champions Run. Brooks is the athletic wear sponsor of the European Athletics Championships. As opposed to the most events in the EAC, the Brooks run is open to competitors of all ages and levels of experience; anyone can sign up! And it is a great option for those visiting the city. The run begins and ends at the Museumplein (Museum Square), which is an area containing three popular museums of the city: The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. Along with this, runners will get to see more notable sights of Amsterdam, including Vondelpark, the Concertbouw, and many of the city’s famous canals. Most of our team will be manning the access points of the run, and I am excited to see how it goes!

 Ticket scanning group at Olympic Stadium.
 Volunteer group at AV Startbaan.
 Sarah scanning tickets at Olympic Stadium.
Professor Presley demonstrating relay for the kids at AV Startbaan.

Sarah Kent - Olympic Stadium

Hello everyone!

Although we are nearing the end of our trip, things have not slowed down whatsoever.  We are still hard at work at the European Athletics Championship (EAC). Yesterday, I finished my last day working at AV Feniks.  It was a blast meeting 1,500 children and help them participate in athletics events.  I must say, I got a good arm workout raking sand for the last three days at the long jump station.  Our crew at AV Feniks was very accommodating for us English speaking folk.  They did their very best to explain and translate Dutch for us.  I couldn't have asked for a better group to work with!

Today was interesting to say the least.  I was moved to Olympic Stadium, along with 6 others, to take tickets for the EAC.  I was a bit excited because this is what I do for a living. If you do not know me, I have been a ticket taker for the Louisville Bats for 4 years.  So with my prior experience and great experience at AV Feniks, I felt confident going into this shift.  Quickly, we learned that only being able to speak English made this job much harder.  I now realize how much I love talking to spectators as they enter the stadium.  Not being able to converse with people made the shift run very slow and I was bored for much of the time.  The language barrier was apparent for the first time since we arrived.  Some were irritated I didn't speak Dutch and some gave me blank stares when I asked if they spoke English.  It was frustrating to feel like I wasn't doing my job up to par.  Luckily I wasn't the only one who felt like this, so we all rallied together and persevered through the shift.  One thing I did find interesting was how the entrance to Olympic stadium was arranged. Normally the security check is before you scan the tickets, but they had the bag check after spectators entered the gate.  They were having people throw away any food or drinks they brought in.  If the bag check was before their ticket was scanned, maybe they would have been able to return those items to their car or bike.  Another interesting point was they had very little signage in the area.  The #1 question I was asked was, "where do I go to buy tickets?"  People constantly passed by the ticket office as it was not marked as such.  It is such a minor detail but it really can affect the experience people have attending these events.  Although today didn't go as smoothly as the last three days, I was an excellent learning experience!

The one huge positive that came out of today’s work shift was being able to visit Olympic Stadium.  As someone who is a huge fan of the Olympics, I was extremely excited to visit this national monument. It was built as the main stadium for the 1928 Summer Olympics. Today it is mostly used for football (aka soccer for us Americans), athletics, and music events.  It has a capacity of over 22,000, which is the same amount as the KFC Yum! Center.
Now how interesting can a stadium be? Well, there are a ton of interesting facts attributed to the Olympic Stadium! Here are just a few of them:

  • The stadium’s design actually won a gold medal too! It took first place in the architecture competition at the 1928 Olympics.
  • For the first time ever, women were allowed to compete in Olympic track and field events.
  • There were plans in 1987 to demolish the stadium, but it was saved when it was named a national monument.
  • It was home to the Amsterdam Admirals in 1995 and 1996. What sport did they play? American Football!
  • The Olympic Experience was an exhibition that focused on Dutch Olympic traditions. Sadly, the exhibition closed in 2014. 


 Our amazing crew at AV Feniks

 Olympic Stadium Torch

Sara using Professor Presley to keep warm

Solera Spagnuolo - Museumplein

Located near the center of Amsterdam is a square that offers its visitors art and history in chic style with all the charm of classic Amsterdam architecture. Amsterdam began its journey to becoming a museum destination in the 19th century when the Rijksmuseum was first debuted in 1885. The square boasts other galleries like the Vincent Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. The Royal Concertgebouw, a renowned orchestra concert venue, is also  found at Museumplein. In front of the Rijksmuseum is the I Amsterdam sign. What started as a promotional art piece for the city is now a famously photographed spot in Amsterdam's Museumplein.

Today for my volunteership with the European Athletics Championship I worked with a great group of classmates at Museumplein. Tomorrow the 10K and half-marathon are being hosted. To prepare for the big event we helped set up fences, banners, podiums and the private areas for the athletes and volunteers. Our supervisor William was a very nice guy from the Netherlands. Although he had a big job directing our large group of volunteers he remained cool and made the volunteer experience pleasant. Organizing our tasks around all the visitors, restaurants and structures complicated the job, but our group worked through it.

The volunteering kept us busy for a good part of the day, but I'm sure when the participants arrive tomorrow they will be happy with the set-up. My favorite part about today's volunteering was probably finding cookies in our lunches (a break from raisin biscuits was a nice surprise). Joking.. the setting of where we were was definitely the best. The great lawn, playful dogs, groups of people picnicking, the Rijksmuseum and the reflection pool made volunteering a great experience.

Sarah Lauer - RAI Convention Center

The RAI convention center is an important part of Amsterdam's History. It was built in 1893 but first opened as the convention center in 1961. It's first use was for the Association of the Bicycle Industry hosting trade shows. After automobiles started to become popular in Amsterdam in the 1900s they had to change the name from RI to RIA because automobiles became part of the trade shows as well. They then rebuilt the structure to what is now, the RAI convention center.

It is currently one of the busiest business trade fairs and convention centers in the world with over 2 million visitors a year and has had more than 90 million visitors sense the opening. The convention center includes 11 halls, 1 ballroom, 22 conference rooms, 42 meeting rooms and 2 semi permanent halls.

Today we volunteered at another Amsterdam Landmark, the Museumplein, or "Museum Square". We set up the start and finish line, clothing station, and tents for the Brooks 10K Champion Run and Half Marathon. The event will start tomorrow on the last day of the European Athletic Championships. The runners course will go through downtown Amsterdam and finish at the Museumplein. Tomorrow I will be volunteering at the 10K as well, manning the access points and I am looking forward to it! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mary Oetken - Discus Throw

Emerging out of Ancient Greece, the Discus throw has been a part of the Track and Field Olympic games since the 18th Olympiad. Back in ancient times, the sport was played with discuses made from iron, stone or bronze. Today the modern disk now has a metal core and rim and the sides are typically made up of plastic. Back in ancient Greece, the sport and athletes who competed in it were glorified for their physical strength, coordination, and precision. Over the years, even with the emergence of new sports and new rules, the sport of discus throw has managed to stay pretty much through all the years.
What is the discus throw?
Discus throw is a track and field event where an athlete throws a really heavy disk in hopes of getting it the farthest out of all of the contestants. The Disc itself weighs 4.4 pounds with an 8.5 inch diameter for men and 2.2 pounds with a .180 inch diameter for women. When going to throw the disc, the competitor stands in a circle and will typically face the opposite direction in which he or she wishes to throw it. Then with a few steps and a spin, they build momentum and release. The distance of the throw is measured from the very front of the circle to where the disc lands and is normally rounded down to the nearest centimeter.

Currently Jurgen Schult from (at the time) East Germany holds the record made on June 6, 1986 with a 74.08 meter throw. More recently at the 2012 summer Olympics, Gerd Kanter from Estonia won with a throw of 66.39 meters!

I had seen discus throw before but never knew what all went into it and how far professionals actually throw it. After learning about this and being able to be part of the European games where it takes place, I can not wait to get the opportunity to watch them in action.

 Today in Amsterdam, we had our 3rd day of work that wrapped up the last day of the kids championship competitions. Working with the kids and being able to take part in the operations of this event has truly been a great experience and one I will hold on to and keep with me! 

After a long work day of playing with kids and learning Dutch, we went and toured the Amsterdam Arena which is home to the AFC AJAX soccer team. The team is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz so each member of the tem has a car parked there and we found out that they are not allowed to drive anything else or it is a breach of contract! Another thing that was crazy was the difference between the visitor and home locker rooms. The visitor room was nice but completely bare. We were told that it only has 10 showers when there are 11 people that play, so was it done on purpose or was it actually an accident? No one will ever know!

So thankful for the opportunity to continue to have fun experiences here in Amsterdam and I am so excited for the next 3 days and what is to come!

Rachel Pease - Health and Fitness

Amsterdam has been amazing.  Our group have been touring the city, going to museums, eating amazing food, and shopping.  This experience has been eye opening and wonderful.  Being able to see another area and learn about the history of Amsterdam has been so much fun.

Today was my third day volunteering at the side events for the European Athletic Championship.  My assignment for the day was to be the starter for the sprints event.  I would help give instructions on how to stand in the blocks and where to put your fingers on the line.  I would then wait for another volunteer that spoke Dutch to give instructions and I would start the kids using a wooden clapper.  I did that throughout the entire day but also got to talk to some of the children that spoke English and parents.

After volunteering was over my group came back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  Some of my friends and I met up with another volunteer that was born and raised here and had dinner with her.  It was really interesting to talk and hang out with her and see how unique the culture is.

Health and fitness in Amsterdam is much different than in the states.  In Amsterdam everyone has a bike.  In daily life there is a lot of exercising simply by walking places and biking places.  Throughout the streets you will see sit down restaurants instead of fast food places.  There are fresh markets and grocery stores where fresh vegetables and fruit is available.

There is a gym right down the block from where we are staying and I went to workout there.  Thinking I would have to sign a waiver, give my license, insurance card and all the other information gyms in the United States makes you give was not needed over here.  I didn’t have to sign anything or give any information.  Also when we went Canal Vaulting I was not asked to sign any waivers or anything.  

Myranda Druien - Long Jump IPC

When we departed for our trip on June 29th I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping that I would get to see the beautiful canals and tour the array of museums but we've done all that and more! We wake up early each morning and go to bed late each night. Our days are packed, but thankfully the exhaustion is overruled by fun times with great friends.

Today was our last day working with children at the side events for the European Athletic Championship. My group and I woke up early and had a quick breakfast before departing for our location at AV Atos. In order to get there in time we had to leave 40 minutes early. Our navigation with the public transportation makes me grateful that I've got a car back home. Riding the bus takes almost double the time it takes to drive a car places. Though with that being said, I'm proud of our entire group for becoming so comfortable with the buses, trams, trains, and metro and for always taking into account the travel time!

Similar to the past two days, we worked different athletics (track and field events) like the long jump, shotput, javelin throw, and 40 m sprint. It was fun to watch the kids have a great time, though the language barrier made it difficult to communicate our excitement with them. There were lots of smiles and clapping!

After a rainy morning of volunteering, we left for our tour of the Amsterdam ArenA where Amsterdam's Ajax futbol team competes. The arena is about an hour from our hotel so the metro ride allowed us to rest a little. When we arrived we had the opportunity to walk through the locker rooms and the press room. Lucky for us, they were prepping for concerts so the field was covered. With the grass protected, we were able to walk out and look around the stadium.

With reference to stadiums and sports it's time to talk about my topic for this trip- Long Jump IPC. For the first time in history, the European Athletics Championship will include International Paralympic Sports. Throughout the competition the Paralympics will be integrated with the official program taking place across Amsterdam.  There’s been word that there will be 60 competitors from the International Paralympic Committee. At 15:05 on July 9th men from all over Europe will gather to contest in the Long Jump. (Amsterdam2016, 2016) People with mental disabilities and/or amputations are eligible if they’ve met all the guidelines set forth by the championship committee.

The Long Jump measures a participant’s horizontal jumping distance. They start at the beginning of a runway and increase their speed until they reach the sandpit at the end of lane. If the competitor passes the scratch line that indicates the starting edge of the pit, the jump does not count. It’s a tricky sport because if a person jumps from too far away they will lose valuable distance. This sport is all about precision and lots of practice.

My entire experience here in Amsterdam has been nothing short of amazing! I am looking forward to the last few days we have in the Netherlands and hoping they don't fly by like the rest of our trip.