Posts tagged "Opening Ceremony"

Opening Ceremony helps one Londoner feel at home

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

On the evening of July 27, Eileen Hsieh stood with 1,400 fellow dancers ready to storm the floor of Olympic Stadium on London’s east side.

“Once we heard that music going, we all were just pumping and yelling in the back,” Hsieh said. “We were underneath all the seats so no one could see us. Then all of a sudden we just ran onto the field, and cheering to the crowd, and the crowd was cheering us on too.”

Hsieh, a Taiwanese international journalist and Indiana University graduate, knew she wanted to participate in the Olympic Games since last year, when she left a reporting and producing job at CNN in London to pursue the opportunity.

“That was my goal. I wanted to participate in the Olympics, and there was no way I could do it fully unless I quit my job, so I did that,” Hsieh said. “I auditioned before Christmas for the Opening Ceremony to find out which position they were going to put me in.”

After two auditions, Hsieh was chosen as a volunteer performer during the portion of the Opening Ceremony showcasing English music and honoring Britain’s Tim Berners, who created the World Wide Web.

Hsieh began practice with her group in April, spending time receiving instruction from professional dance coaches, as well as Danny Boyle, the English filmmaker who directed the ceremony.

But without previous dancing experience, Hsieh said she spent extra hours perfecting her performance outside organized rehearsal.

“I would just gather with some of my fellow dancers who felt the same way as me, who weren’t as confident, and we would just rehearse in our own time,” Hsieh said. “We would go into the studio and just practice in front of the mirror.”

Hsieh has worked as a freelance journalist for Reuters in London since leaving CNN, a position that allowed her to keep more flexible hours preparing for the ceremony.

As a dancer and reporter in London this summer, Hsieh has gotten the unique opportunity of seeing London’s Olympic Games from the inside and out.

“I wanted to participate and wanted to make sure I did everything I could to get my feet in there somehow,” Hsieh said. “It takes so much effort and so much good will to actually make it happen.”

Hsieh has spent portions of her life living in Taiwan, Morgan Town, W. Va., and London, but she says participating in the Opening Ceremony has made her feel at home in the city where she lives now.

“It means that I am integrated to the city already. I feel like I’m a true Londoner because it is really a London event, and I’m part of it,” Hsieh said. “If they asked us to do it again tomorrow, we all would.”

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

In praise of good editors

My husband’s the director of BSU at the Games. It was his brainchild and has been his obsession these past two years.

I’m the faculty advisor to the features team. I was a newspaper features writer for years, and Ryan and I used to work at papers together. So these long nights, long meetings, long periods of simultaneous exhaustion and exhilaration we’re experiencing here with our 40 students at the Olympic Games seem sort of warmly familiar to me. It reminds me of my early newsrooms, of being 20-something with other 20-somethings who just wanted to do good work and see their names in black-and-white print somewhere.

What has surprised me is how it feels to be 39 and watching it happen from the outside—how it feels to help nudge the process forward, to initiate young people into what has to be one of the most demanding, difficult and wonderful jobs anyone can have.

Working through the night of the Opening Ceremony, with dawn starting to soak through the curtains of my London flat, I looked around at all the students staring down into laptops, complaining, laughing, passing a bag of chips, arguing about ledes, and I found myself thinking of Marilyn Young. She was my best and favorite editor in that period of my life. (She’s at the Jacksonville Times-Union now.) A word from her, positive or negative, could make or destroy my day.

Suddenly I saw myself as she must have seen me then, with my lazy streak, my stubbornness, my flashes of anger and occasional petulance, my imagination, my passionate energy, my bursts of insight and raw talent. I must have annoyed the crap out of her sometimes. I must have delighted her when I did something right.

Marilyn made me a better writer, and she trained me in a job that is also a calling. She overlooked my periodic 20-something dumbassery because she believed in my potential.

Now my little team of features writers is wandering around London getting cussed out in multiple languages, struck down with food poisoning and lost on the Tube, and I’m trying to channel Marilyn. I’m petting, cajoling and threatening them as the situation seems to require.

And when they do something right—for example, when a once-shy girl brought home the perfect interview, and another saw her work published in the Huffington Post—I am proud. I am as proud as if I saw my own name there.

I am hopeful I have given a little of what I received.

Colleen Steffen  |  Features Editor

Opening Ceremony viewing in Victoria Park

Victoria Park housed the largest free public viewing of the Opening Ceremony in London Friday night. The park had lines over a mile long to get inside and a colorful mix of spectators wearing their respective country’s flags. It housed three big screens, a ferris wheel, zipline, and was less than two miles from Olympic Stadium.

Also check out our video from the live screening of Opening Ceremony at Victoria Park in London.

Photos by Valerie Carnevale, Taylor Bussick and Emily Theis.

Mood turns optimistic as Games begin

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

The dimly lit Café Kick Sports Pub in central London was a mix of jovial patrons, drinks in hand, staring at TV screens showing the Olympic Opening Ceremony last night.

Between beers, cocktails and games of foosball, foreigners shared Londoners’ excitement in welcoming the Games to the city above the low roar of the pub, which was spilling out the front doorway into the street.

Colin Davidson stood outside Café Kick watching the ceremony while sipping a Peroni and said he expected the Games to have a strong economic affect on London, especially it’s east side.

The diverse group of pub-goers cheered as their country’s athletes filed onto the stadium floor. The three hour event ended early enough for those watching the ceremony at the stadium and elsewhere to get home before the London’s Tube underground system closed for the night.

“It’s a great moment for Britain,” said Davidson, who has spent all 32 of his years in London. ”I think it’s just pushing us more together than ever. They’ve put a lot of this money into this, and it’s going to bring Britain back to where it needs to be.”

The narrow pub filled with pride when the Olympic rings hovered above the stadium, and groups of drinkers from around the world clapped and shouted as their country’s athletes spilled out onto the floor.

“It’s nice to have an event that involves the whole world coming together in one place,” said Elliot Maule, an Indian-Englishman from the Clapham Borough on London’s south side. “Even though London has the Olympics, it still involves the whole country. So I think it’s a huge source of pride for the whole of the U.K.”

The Opening Ceremony marked the beginning of the Games last night with appearances from celebrity L.A. Galaxy Soccer star David Beckham, a performance from Sir Paul McCartney, and actor Daniel Craig taking part in a video piece showing Queen Elizabeth II “parachuting” into the Olympic stadium.

The performance included an estimated 15,000 volunteers, according to BBC reports.

“The English are very unassuming and honest and pessimistic, and I think everyone had a lot of negative thoughts going into this,” said London local Susie Combem. “To me, watching this tonight, I feel really proud and I feel really patriotic.”

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

It was a perfect—and perfectly British—night

By Emily Thompson  |  BSU at the Games

Hours before anyone in America would see, Londoners and visitors had the chance to experience the Opening Ceremony Friday night. Thousands of people from around the world gathered in Victoria Park for the largest free viewing in the city.

In a truly British manner, spectators queued in front of the park for at least two hours. As they inched toward the entrance, they passed an array of entertainment: vegan protesters (including a guy in a pig costume), religious zealots, face painters, flag vendors, French fanfare and more.

Two girls came prepared for the wait. While their friends held their place in line, they had a sushi picnic. Every so often when the line moved forward, they picked up their blanket and situated themselves a few feet further to keep up with their friends.

Soon before the ceremony began, several Red Arrows flew over London, leaving red, white and blue smoke in their trail.

Inside the park, several spectators sported flags, patriotic-colored clothes and face paint.

Evan Smith from Dallas took a break from studying at the London School of Economics to view the ceremony on one of the three large screens around the park.

He wore an American flag draped around his shoulders.

“[London’s] definitely getting more crowded, even in the week I’ve been here,” Smith said. “But it’s fun; the atmosphere is so fun.”

On the other side of the park, Londoner Lindsee McCutchon waved a small Union Jack flag.

She cried during the British national anthem.

“I’ve really enjoyed seeing the other cultures that have come to our country,” she said. “I think that’s really cool. You see all the different cultures, and everyone’s harmonious. I like that.”

Then as the Olympic athletes marched across the screen, spectators waited patiently to cheer for their countries’ teams. The loudest roar was the last, when Great Britain finally made its appearance.

Paul McCartney finished the Opening Ceremony with a dynamic performance. As the fireworks exploded above the Olympic Stadium, spectators in Victoria Park could see them both on the screen and in the air.

When the ceremony was over, thousands of people leaving the park sang “Hey Jude” together. It could not have been more perfectly British.

Emily Thompson is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at @ekthompson2410@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

I’m not a Brit, but I’m proud too

After discovering what some bars in London really think of journalists after they kicked me out, trekking around London for two hours, and getting locked shoeless out of my room, I decided to take London Evening Standard writer Nick Curtis’ advice that the Opening Ceremony may better be viewed from home.

Coming in late, I caught the end of the opening performance and watched enthralled as performers portrayed the early stages of technology and development of the industrial revolution. As five golden rings rose above the crowd and joined to form the universal Olympic symbol, chills ran up my spine and covered my arms with goose bumps, making the hairs stand on end. As the camera zoomed into the crowd of performers, the grin spread across one man’s face showed he felt the same chills and more. Pride for his country was painted all over his face.

But Brits aren’t the only ones who should be proud of their culture. England gave us the stories of our childhood in “Peter Pan,” “Harry Potter,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Mary Poppins.” It gave us iconic musicians known to every generation in the Beatles and Queen. England gave us the man who invented the World Wide Web (something I didn’t know before the ceremony).

A man in a pub asked me last night if Americans were glad the Olympic Games were in London this year, if we felt a special connection because it’s an English-speaking country.  To me, it didn’t make a difference, I told him. But now I am proud the Games are in London and proud of everything England has given to the world.

Lindsey Gelwicks  |  Features Reporter

@lbgelwicks

Not an empty seat at Piccadilly bar as Games begin

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

Nearly two hours before the beginning of the Opening Ceremony, the Sports Cafe near Piccadilly Circus is beginning to fill. Not an empty seat or table is left in the two-story American-style bar.

As bartenders on the ground floor fill pints of Stella Artois and Carling, someone mentions this many people entering the bar this early in the evening is rare. Crowds find any space available to watch the show on one of the bar’s several TVs. Waitresses in body-conscious red and blue dresses stand outside a reserved section of tables directing those without reservations upstairs.

Amongst the growing packs are four American college students visiting London for an eight-week internship program.

Billy Krol, a junior at the University of Illinois, was proud to be representing the U.S. at the start of the Olympic Games in England. He wore shorts resembling the American flag with stars on the right leg and stripes down the left.

“I actually scaled it down a lot,” he said, mentioning that his outfit for July 4th contained more spirit.

Sarah Attaway, a junior at the College of Charleston, joined in on the American pride. She bought a red dress just for the occasion.

Unable to find a place to sit in the quickly filling bar, Attaway and Krol waited while others in the group searched for another place to possibly watch the ceremony.

For Attaway, this was her first time watching an Olympic Opening Ceremony, and she was looking forward to it, she said.

Krol was most interested in discovering what the performance would be.

“They keep it a mystery,” he said, explaining how one of the intern’s coworkers was a dancer in the ceremony but has had to keep tight-lipped about it.

Lindsey Gelwicks is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Lindsey and the BSU team at @lbgelwicks@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

 

No money, no ticket to the ceremony

By Jonathan Batuello  |  BSU at the Games

Not having a ticket into the Opening Ceremony left spectators hopeful to get in either out of luck or a lot of money. The ceremony sold out and a few hours before it began, scalping prices in Olympic Park ranged from $1,400 to $4,500.

Multiple people walked around with signs asking for tickets, and almost all gave the same response: nothing was in their price range.

“There are a lot of people looking for tickets. Good luck,” Mark Massely from Connecticut said.

It was a sentiment shared by Hillery Cecil from Atlanta.

“It has not gone well, not well at all,” she said.

Both said they had been in Olympic Park for a few hours looking for tickets without success. Cecil was about to leave, but Massely said he and his two kids would spend a little big longer before heading out.

“We aren’t disappointed we didn’t find tickets, but with the general atmosphere we are,” Cecil said. ”It’s just lackluster, just not very much here.”

This group was one of the last few to have a chance at scalping a ticket in the mall area outside of Olympic Park. Security began escorting anyone without a ticket away from the venue at 5 p.m. Everyone without a ticket then had to follow Massely’s advice and head to various places in London showing the ceremony on television, most notably Victoria and Hyde parks.

This wasn’t a bad option for Massely, though, who said he would head to Hyde Park and enjoy the atmosphere of being in an Olympic city.

“I don’t think we expected to get in (to Olympic Park), so it would be a luxury to go in,” he said. “If not, we’ll watch it like the other 4 billion people (across the world) on the big tube.”

Jonathan Batuello is a graduate student studying journalism at Ball State University and an adviser and writer for BSU at the Games. Follow Jonathan and the BSU team at @jcbatuello@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Watching the Ceremony from the Midlands

By Pat Boylan and Michael Nauman  |  BSU at the Games

As the world gathered to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, all of the attention was understandably on London. A two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest, in Worcester, England, the excitement wasn’t quite like the host city, but it still had Olympic pep in its step.

Bushwacker Pub general manager Mark Humpage said the European soccer tournament just a month ago helped him judge expected attendance.

“We have had about double the attendance today for the Opening Ceremony. I think we will also have large crowds for track and soccer events,” Humpage said.

The crowded pub was focused on the television as the Ceremony played. Even the bartenders stopped to look at the big-screen as they poured customers’ drinks. And as the Queen made her appearance the city came to a halt. Unlike in the U.S., where President Obama may receive mixed reviews, the Queen had nothing but respect and cheers.

“The Opening Ceremony did a good job of representing our culture. They incorporated a great mix of history, music and the present,” Matt Penn of Worcester said.

Penn also believed the local flavor of the Olympic Games sparked his interest.

“Normally I pay very little attention to the Olympics, but I’ll definitely be watching.  I think the Opening Ceremony has done England proud.”

Despite a nearly unanimously positive reception, there was one disappointment expressed by many but summarized best by Penn.

“I can’t believe that we haven’t heard Adele. We’ve seen Mr. Bean, but not Adele.”

Pat Boylan is a senior telecommunications major and Michael Nauman is a junior sport administration major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Michael, Pat and the BSU team at@patboylanbsu@itsmichaelbrah@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.