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Global Education

“One World, One Dream.”

By Cora Lee Visnick
Published: September 2008

On the first day of school, I’d never been more excited to answer that inevitable question: What was the high point of your summer? All I could answer was, “The entire month of August.

I can guarantee you off the bat that there is nothing quite like the Olympics. On the eighth day of the eighth month, year 2008, I witnessed the world unite. With more than 200 of our planet’s countries strolling into one bird’s nest, I could sense the connection between us all. The lighting of the flame sent a shock of silence through athlete, volunteer, staff, and spectator alike. It was obvious that this moment was one like none of us had ever experienced, and probably one that we wouldn’t ever sense again.

The Opening Ceremony was the faultless kick off to the next 17 days of games. I saw a woman about my size (let’s say five-foot-one, 116 pounds) lift more than 400 pounds. I witnessed Michael Phelps take a race by a landslide, and Nastia Liukin narrowly edge out Shawn Johnson for all-around gold. I laughed when Serena Williams smashed her racket into the court in rage, and then sign it and hand it off to a man who would surely auction it off on eBay.

And besides these mere highlights, I felt a daily numbness in the presence of thousands of world-class athletes.

On my 16th birthday, my uncle gave me tickets to the track and field finals. I couldn’t have been happier even if I were on My Super Sweet Sixteen, and I’ll swear to anyone that Bryan Clay glanced at me for half a second when I stood on my chair and yelled his name.

Of course, the sports events were broken up by overeating, cultural immersions, and family bonding. I visited the famous sites, many of which I had not seen since I was a toddler. When I returned to the Forbidden City, I found that I had more appreciation for the architecture. My family took me to art galleries called “798.

While examining a curtain made out of human hair, my family and I were asked for an interview by a man with a camera crew. The next day, while my sister and I were cooing over the pandas at the Beijing Zoo, another camera crew stopped and videotaped us. When I brought it up over Peking duck that evening, my uncle explained how my sister and I were unusual, and many of the Chinese could tell we were mixed. We’re half-Chinese and half-Caucasian, symbols of the slogan of “One World, One Dream.

I’ve been to China before, but I’ve never got on the flight home with such eager pride in my heritage. My mother was born in Beijing, and though she had lived there for two decades, even she found noticeable changes. My father, who had studied in China on a college program, noted how clean and bright the city was. The common belief that a layer of smog blockades the sun was replaced with genuinely blue skies.

It was obvious that the government had put charm and detail into every street corner. My relatives in China burst with pride, and when I came home I realized just how much it had rubbed off.

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