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By Peter Fortenbaugh
Executive Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
It was all snow, surprises and thrilling international competition for 50 teens from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula -- including nine teens from our Menlo Park clubhouse -- who spent nine days at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
This wonderful trip was made possible by the Foundation for Global Sports Development, an organization that promotes sportsmanship, fair play, education and ethics among youth.
Lucky participants included teens from our clubhouses in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City, and 10 students from Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto. "I feel so fortunate that I was chosen for this once in a lifetime trip," said Clarisa, a teen from our Redwood City clubhouse.
Club members were chosen based on their participation in the Clubs' College Bound program and their academic standing. The Clubs coordinated closely with local school principals to ensure that the students would not fall behind due to their time away from school.
The teens saw various competitions, including moguls, cross-country skiing, hockey, and curling. They took side trips to local museums and other sights. And they had several meetings with Olympians.
While attending the women's hockey match between the USA and China, the students sat only a few rows away from Vice President Joe Biden.
"We were so lucky to see so many things on our trip that wouldn't normally be possible at home," Clarisa said.
Our lucky attendees met with Chrissy Perham, winner of three Olympic swimming medals at the 2002 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Chrissy shared an inspirational message with our teens about the joy she received from working hard toward her goal. As a special treat, Chrissy passed around her Olympic medals for the students to admire. The camera shutters clicked madly at that point!
"I really enjoyed meeting people from many different countries, seeing the excitement of the fans, and getting to know the Canadian men and women at the church where we stayed," said Tajianna, a teen from our Menlo Park clubhouse.
Tajianna's favorite event was seeing the women's moguls on Cypress Mountain.
Edgar, another teen from Menlo Park, enjoyed meeting the only Mexican athlete at the Olympics. "I learned that the Olympics is more about bringing people from many countries together to celebrate each other than it is about competition," he said. "I hope to use this lesson by becoming friends with people who are different than me when I attend college next year."