Skier Yohan Goutt Gonçalves competed at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, becoming the first athlete to represent Timor Leste at the Olympic Winter Games.
He runs an Airbnb Olympian Experience with his mother, introducing people to Timorese cuisine and sharing stories of his family’s time in the country.
With our support, you too can become an Airbnb host and introduce people to your passion like Yohan. You can sign up through Athlete365.
A word for ‘snow’ doesn’t even exist in our dialect! The experience is an opportunity for people to learn a bit about the culture.
Yohan Goutt Gonçalves
One of the main motivations for setting up my Airbnb Olympian Experience was to show the world that there is a country called Timor Leste, which has been one of the main objectives of my skiing career as well.
Working with Airbnb is definitely a good way to spread the message about Timor. Through competing at Olympic Winter Games I get to talk a lot about Timor to the media, but now I get to talk about it to an online audience. I can reach so many more people, because when you speak to the media it usually only relates to one country or one language, but through these experiences we can have an Asian participant one day, an American participant the next day, and then a European client after that.
Mixing it up
My experience is a cooking lesson, hosted by myself and my mum. We guide people though cooking a typical recipe from Timor Leste – midar sin, which is a sweet and sour pork meal. I’m definitely not a chef, but my mum’s a great cook and she’s been making that meal for ages. We wanted to find something that not a lot of people would have come across before. It is a very Timorese meal, and it gives people an experience of Timorese culture from their own home.
We welcome the guests and we check if we have all the ingredients – a lot of the time tamarind paste is quite hard to find, and so we help people create their own! As well as the cooking, we talk a bit about my mum’s life in Timor, how she escaped the country during the war, and about my life and why I represent Timor at the Olympic Games in skiing. Timor is a tropical island where there is no snow, so it surprises a lot of people. A word for ‘snow’ doesn’t even exist in our dialect! The experience is an opportunity for people to learn a bit about the culture through eating.
Flipping the narrative
I am really enjoying talking about Timor and my culture, and if you’re looking to do the same then I think becoming a host is a win-win situation. It’s a great opportunity to talk about your sport as well; I know many athletes doing sports that have an unusual story, and people want to hear about them.
I have this upside-down world map, on which you get a really different vision of the world – things you don’t really realise when you look at a normal map. On this map Timor Leste is right in the middle. A lot of people who join my experience don’t know about Timor and are intrigued to know more.
A lot of the Timorese population are quite young and interested in politics; they know what is happening all around the world, they are all very fast at learning new technologies. They have a new vision for the country, and I believe that sport can really have a huge impact on a nation, especially on the international stage. Raising the country’s profile is one of the reasons why I wanted to represent Timor Leste at the Olympic Games, and hosting an Airbnb experience allows me to do that as well.
I think that Airbnb getting involved with athletes is very interesting. It has a lot to offer athletes and I think that becoming an Airbnb Olympian Experiences host is a great opportunity for you. Airbnb is a global company and I believe that if we give a little bit to them, then they can give a little bit to us. It’s also one of the sponsors for the next five Olympic Games and I think it’s great to work with companies like that; it’s a modern organisation, you can really rely on them, and it’s nice to be part of that. Airbnb gave me lots of technical guidance on how to set up and run the experience, while Athlete365 gave me some tips and advice as well as images I could use for my profile.
If you don’t really know where to go when your sporting career ends, the Airbnb Olympian & Paralympian Experiences Programme could be a great solution. There is a lot of support on Athlete365 to help athletes after you retire, and this programme is a great bridge into the post-sport world.
Airbnb gave me lots of technical guidance on how to set up and run the experience, while Athlete365 gave me some tips and advice as well as images I could use for my profile.
Yohan Goutt Gonçalves