…and Canada remains at the top for gold medal counts! I hope all of you are having a wonderful time getting caught up with the Olympic spirit!
It felt like just yesterday that I was going to downtown Vancouver almost every day to celebrate the Winter Olympics…Those times lining up at the Canadian mint to get the newest coin, rehearsing as part of the cast for the closing ceremony, and trading pins with collectors along Robson street…
Even though I have never tried 90% of the sports present in the Winter Olympics, my eyes are still glued to the TV and computer monitor, spectating every event and reading every article on CBC.
What makes me so compelled to watch Canadian athletes compete against the world is the strong feeling of cohesiveness: That moment when two figure skaters execute a jump in sync, that moment when a snowboarder lands sturdily from 3 back flips, that moment when Canada scores the winning goal. I feel as if I’m actually in their shoes/boots, cringing every time that flaw occurs, and flashing a huge smile every time I make a perfect run.
Canada is such a large country.
I didn’t realize what being a true Canadian was until I went on an International Cadet Exercise to New Zealand (Jan 21 to Jan 31, 2014). Canada’s top 6 cadets were chosen to represent our nation at New Zealand’s 150th Cadet Forces Celebration, which consisted of 6 days of elective training and a final ceremony (parade) on the last day.
*Check out this video to see all the cool activities I got to do in New Zealand, from FAM flying, CasEvac, shooting Steyres, to Military Weaponary Familiarization. A little snippet of me at 16:40 and 16:55…quite nerve-racking to stare into a large camera with mics going everywhere haha
On the first day we arrived, we were split up into different training groups consisting of approximately 35 cadets each. For the first couple days, being amongst 1200 New Zealand cadets and 60 Australian cadets, I felt quite out of place.
I just didn’t seem to fit right into the culture, and I found it difficult to start the simplest conversations because I didn’t want to run into the awkwardness of not understanding their Kiwi “accent”.
As the exercise progressed, I made a lot of new Kiwi and Aussie friends, and started to feel more comfortable. But, I still can’t explain how happy I was every time I happened to spot another Canadian! Even though the 6 of us only met for 24 hours before we were split off, it felt like we’d be friends forever. Everything seemed so familiar: our accent, our experiences, our style of speech…
The height of my patriotism finally reached it’s maximum on the last day of the exercise: Final Parade. I was selected to be the flight commander of the Canadian contingent, and I must say, I almost got a little teary eyed as our tiny flight of 6 cadets marched through the paparazzi of cameras along the road that led to the parade field. :’)
A flush of Canadian pride surged through me as I was shouting out the cadence in French (Thanks William Enlow ;)), and I tried not to laugh every time I heard someone from the sidelines hushing to their friends, “Look! It’s the Canadians,” or, “Wow, look at those Canadians march!” Over 20 flights went before us, so I hope we ended the march-on on a good bang!
What I took away most from this international experience was the sense of Canadian citizenship, and how all Canadians – West Coast, Central, East Coast, North – stick together.
We are all proud to wear that maple leaf on our uniforms, backpacks, and luggage because we want to let the world know that we are CANADIANS. WE are the ones who always say “eh”. WE are the ones who brave the cold morning temperature in t-shirts because we were told not to bring tunics. WE are the ones who can call out French commands. WE are the ones who pronounce every syllable in a word. WE are the ones who say that we’re from CANADA (not CaNAdia).
I understand how difficult it is to be away from home in a COMPLETELY different cultural setting, and how comforting it is to hear from someone back in my home country. And so, continuing my obsession with baking over my reading break, I dedicate this batch of cupcakes to the Olympians who are defending our Canadian title halfway across the world in Sochi.
I am so proud to be a true Canadian, born and raised in Vancouver, BC. From my travels around the world, not many people actually know about Canada. In fact, they just think we’re a piece of land North of the United States.
To the athletes, thank you for showing that Canada does have it’s strengths, and that we are, indeed, the fierce underdogs.
Congratulations to the athletes who have won medals so far, and good luck to the athletes who will be competing in the next week!
Thank you for representing our nation!