From the blazing torch, to the dazzling fireworks and lights, to the top international athletes holding their nation’s flags aloft, there was much for Canadian International School of Beijing (CISB) students and staff members to be awe struck by as some of the fortune few to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic opening ceremonies. With the excitement of the Winter Games continuing all around us, we are delighted to share our memories of attending those ceremonies and other events such as ice hockey games, figuring skating matches [accurate?] and more.

The Opening Ceremony is one of the main events those of us at CISB and people around the world had been waiting for! CISB was delighted to have serval staff attend. While it can be difficult to capture such an experience in words, CISB Art and Design [accurate?] department head Dr. Sajid began by expressing his gratitude. “It was one of the most exciting and wonderful ceremonies I have ever seen in my life. The arrangements made by the Chinese government were fantastic. All the arrangements for athletics, officials, International dignitaries and visitors were outstanding.” Dr. Sajid added: “the Beijing National Stadium was full of colourful LED lights and flags of the 91 participating countries. It was an honour for me to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 and Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. So, I feel proud to be a foreign Beijing citizen living and working here for more than 18 years.”

“One thing we particularly loved about the opening ceremony was that the performances were beautifully planned and done by local residents of all ages. It was amazing to see so many talented young children perform!” said CISB PSES Vice Principal Ms. Caroline Woodburn.

Among the different events, the Sweden vs Czech Republic women’s ice hockey game was a stand-out for 45 CISB Bobcats who cheered the players on from the stands. What an unbelievable experience. The entire event was fascinating, knowing how exclusive it was to attend. Our Bobcat community is incredibly grateful to the Beijing Foreign Affairs Office for this opportunity! We would also like to thank Ms. Bella Du and Mr. Vincent Dam for their support and organization to ensure we all met the criteria to attend.

It was a tick on the bucket list to attend the Beijing 2022 Olympics. Ken Mandervile said, “I was able to see the Czech Republic and Sweden women’s as well as the Germany and China men’s hockey games. Getting the opportunity to go twice was more than I could ask for during the pandemic. During both games, I was able to experience the magic of different nationalities coming together. Listening to the excitement of somebody’s first hockey experience and having someone with more knowledge of the game explain the rules are memories I’ll carry with me.”

Ms. Woodburn had always dreamed of seeing such an Olympic competition in person. “This has always been a dream of mine and I never would have imagined it to come true. I am grateful to the incredible organization, support and kindness from the CPAFFC to make this dream come true!”

It was unlike any other hockey game! “Coming from Canada, I am used to a lot of noise and cheering when it comes to hockey games. This game had a different feel, as there were fewer spectators, and everyone was respectful of the COVID protocol and regulations. However, it was still an unbelievable experience and really cool to watch the two women’s teams play and hear them cheer each other on, on the ice,” said Ms. Emily Charbonau, Kindergarten teacher.

In terms of the safety measures put in place for the attendees, French teacher Ms. Leila Rabboard said: “We had to go through different steps to access the games. First of all, the Organization Committee checked that we were fully vaccinated. Then we had to adhere to the Covid-19 protocol, i.e. temperature monitoring and Covid testing checking. On the day I attended, dedicated buses for the Olympic games came to pick us up at the school. On the bus, we were informed of some requirements; we had to wear an N95 mask which was provided, we were not allowed to bring our own bags (we used those provided) and electronic items such as cameras, power banks etc. When we arrived at the Olympic site, there were three checkpoints: one for tickets and passports, one for bag checking and body-search and the last one for tickets again. Although the security measures were stringent, the volunteers were very welcoming. They constantly greeted us on our way to the Olympic venue, smiling and making the whole process run smoothly. Everything was meticulously organized, and it was a very pleasant experience.”

CISB PE department head Jeff Zownir spoke of the excitement in the air at this exclusive opportunity. He said “the organization and coordination was exceptional. Lots of smiling and happy volunteers who made it a positive environment for everyone who attended. An amazing experience all around and once in a lifetime opportunity that will be remembered for a long time.”

Mr. Douglas K. Prescott-Head of School shared that “it is my deep belief that a unique feeling of unity has been on display from the moment that it was announced that Beijing would become the first city to have hosted the Summer and now Winter Olympics. The Chinese people and the country rallied behind their leaders in unity to make this historic event a tremendous success. With the support of the international community, China has made this Olympic stage a dream come through for all who have taken part in any capacity-from the building or retro-fitting of venues—ensuring for responsible stewardship and the environment; to the athletes who have competed-striving for excellence by going faster, higher and stronger towards personal bests or setting Olympic records; the officials who ensured for a fair and respectful playing experience; the viewing audience who witnessed splendid venues, excellence service and volunteers who went the extra mile; the TV audience who have experienced the best in technology used to enhance the viewing experience; and so much more—the Olympics have become a reality and the world has witnessed what is possible when people to people relationships are built for a shared purpose that celebrates diversity through the coming together through this world event called the Olympics. I feel blessed to have been in Beijing and in China during the lead up to the Winter Olympics and to have been able to attend the Opening Ceremonies. It is definitely special and I feel blessed to have forged unforgettable memories”.

A lifetime of memories will be taken from the events attended so far, and there is still so much more to come with the excitement of the upcoming Paralympics.