Volunteer finds inspiration and life-changing experiences at Rio 2016

23 Aug 2016
RIO 2016 IOC News

Fashion designer Juliana Palm says her friends in Rio de Janeiro were opposed to the Olympic Games when she told them she wanted to become a Games volunteer. By the time the Games ended, her friends had become supporters and she had found a new source of design inspiration.

Juliana Palm IOC/Ian Jones
“They changed their minds because they observed how the Olympic Games were working in Rio. We had security for people in the Olympic Park. We had efficient public transportation,” she said. “The Games were amazing. Incredible.”

Juliana said she came to the Games seeking creative inspiration for her design work. She found it in the peaceful gathering of people from different cultures and religions in the Olympic Park. Reflecting on her experiences the morning after the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony, she teared up as she as recalled her interactions with other volunteers and Games visitors.

“Working with other volunteers changed my life. I met a girl from Algeria. She taught me about the Muslim religion. She’s one of my best friends now,” she said. “I met a girl from Mexico and picked up some inspiration from her culture. I found inspiration in the colours the flags.”

The Games volunteer said she was also inspired by Olympic athletes, and enjoyed learning about fencing, rugby sevens and other sports that are not widely practised in Brazil. She was particularly struck by the gold medal win by Brazilian judoka Rafaela Silva, who grew up in Rio de Janeiro’s impoverished “City of God” favela

“It was amazing — first, because she is a woman, and we don’t have as many sports for women as for men. She showed the world that it is possible to do anything if you believe in something,” she said.

Working with other volunteers changed my life. Juliana Palm Volunteer, Brazil
Juliana said she was always confident that Brazil would deliver successful Games, despite the country’s economic and political challenges. 

“I never had any doubts because we are natural warriors. We have difficulties with education. We have difficulties with public transportation. But it is not a problem for us because we get over it,” she said. “Rio is not London, but we had great Olympic Games.”

She also expressed confidence that Rio de Janeiro will continue to benefit from the Games in the years ahead, citing in particular the new bus rapid transit (BRT) links, the new Metro Line 4 and the revitalisation of the city’s historic Porto Maravilha (Marvellous Port) area.

“Without the Olympic Games, Line 4 never would have happened. Never. It will help many people commute to work,” she said. “I love Porto Maravilha. Before it was nothing, just a dangerous place. Now families can go there. It’s safe and beautiful. It’s another free place Cariocas can enjoy.”

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