Friday, August 24, 2012

Olympic Reflections

My husband and I concluded our bi-annual tradition of losing sleep for the two weeks of Olympic coverage that lasts until midnight.  The sporting events have been remarkable.  Stories about Oscar Pistorius, Gabby Douglas, Kirani James, and countless other athletes touched our hearts.  It's been a wonderful experience, full of inspiring stories of dedication and sacrifice by athletes and their families.  For us, the back stories and kind gestures are maybe the biggest reason we watch the Olympics.

One of the stories that captivated us was the story of gymnast Olga Korbut, who didn't simply win gold medals (though she won four of them), she changed the face of women's gymnastics as well as the perception of Soviet athletes.  In the 1972 games in Munich, this 17-year-old joyfully charmed the audience with her talent.  This YouTube video shows her floor exercise.
After the games, the Soviet team was invited to meet with President Richard Nixon at the White
House.  It was said by some that this meeting helped prompt President Nixon to reach out to the USSR
and begin diplomatic relations.  The Olympics serves not simply as an athletic contest, but as a vehicle to know people from other countries, other cultures, other ethnicities.  Maybe it's the euphoria from the we-are-the-world closing ceremonies talking, but I can't help but think that it is from understanding one another in a neutral venue such as the Olympics, that is the key to the possibility of peace in the world.  My 1960s idealism is rekindled; no doubt about it.

In our library, we have the opportunity to connect with other cultures through our collection, whether in book or electronic format.  One of my favorite general titles is How to Be a Perfect Stranger, a book that lets the reader know what to expect when attending a religious service or celebration of various faiths.  Whether you're interest in world religions, cultural or food traditions, or want to explore the various ethnic and cultural areas of Los Angeles, we have a wealth of material to help you do just that.

Happy exploring!

Mrs. Hodge

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