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Bringing the world together in Singapore

16/08/2010

Olympic Villages are always multi-cultural places - and none more so than at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

That's because in addition to housing athletes from 204 different National Olympic Committees, the Youth Olympic Village is also playing host to a World Culture Village as part of the YOG's Culture and Education Programme.

Booths representing every participating national territory have been set up at the heart of the Youth Olympic Village, celebrating each country's unique culture.

The first set of booths in the village represent countries from Europe. The displays will then change every few days to feature countries from Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Asia.

The idea behind the World Culture Village is to give participating athletes a chance to learn more about the world and experience cultures and customs from different countries while they are at the YOG.

As well as featuring facts and information from each country, the interactive booths offer athletes the chance to dress up in traditional costumes and enjoy other fun activities, such as games and face-painting.

“It's really fun learning about the different countries,” said Lucy Maino, who is representing Papua New Guinea in the girls' football tournament. “There are so many things that I didn't know about – it's crazy! It's just so amazing seeing how unique every country around the world is and I've been learning a lot.”

The booths themselves have been created by Singaporean schools and are hosted by local school children, who have been enthusiastically encouraging athletes to experience what’s on offer.

“It's cool meeting the athletes,” said Shaik Jifridin, a 15-year-old pupil at Seng Kang Secondary School who was hosting the Macedonia booth. “You get to learn about their countries and they're all enjoying the different booths. We wanted to make our booth as wonderful as possible. We did lots of research and it was cool learning about a different culture and seeing how different it is from Singapore.”

While the young athletes have been enjoying learning about different cultures, IOC Athletes Commission member Angela Ruggiero, who is in Singapore as an Athlete Role Model, has also been impressed by the World Culture Village.

“I think it's absolutely wonderful,” she said. “As an Olympian, one of my favourite parts of the Games is experiencing the Olympic Village and interacting with athletes from other countries – this just takes it one step further. They can learn about every country in the world and interact with people from all over the world. For the young athletes to have this opportunity is so special and it's a great addition to the Olympic experience.”

See all live events of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games on www.youtholympicgames.org and follow us on www.facebook.com/youtholympicgames.

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