Korean students connect to Olympism
Blending sport with education and cultural expression is the cornerstone on which the IOC’s Olympic Values Education Programme is constructed. It aims to use Olympic sports and the core philosophies of Olympism to encourage good citizenship, as well as teach the benefits of sport.
The PyeongChang Organising Committee (POCOG) used these same philosophies to build its own robust education programme, which directly reached more than 1.3 million young people in the Republic of Korea, while another 5.5 million benefitted from the curriculum.
Through this programme, which was geared towards integrating young people into the Olympic Movement, inspiring them to make healthy changes and challenging them to go beyond their limits, POCOG offered online and offline material to teachers and students at more than 400 schools.
The online syllabus provides downloadable lessons on winter sport, the Olympic values and the Olympic Torch Relay, while employees from various departments of the Organising Committee visited classrooms to give lectures on working in the sports industry.
"This part of the education programme was based on mentorship," Arram Kim, who manages the education programme for POCOG, said of the school lectures. "We wanted to show students there are more options to work in the sports industry beyond being a coach or athlete."
Building on the idea, PyeongChang 2018 also started the world's first online Skype mentorship initiative, which connected Olympians from around the world with Korean students. While Olympians spoke to students about the importance of the Olympic values, the Korean students, in return, educated athletes on the Republic of Korea's history.
Nearly 60,000 students from various schools have now got to see some of those Olympians compete in person in PyeongChang.
Several National Olympic Committees joined POCOG in its efforts to connect young people to Olympic sport.
The United States Olympic Committee, in partnership with POCOG, ran an initiative to thank PyeongChang for hosting the world at the Games. This included five video chats, with the two-way knowledge-sharing experience featuring the ice dance sister-brother duo Maia and Alex Shibutani.
"We're very passionate about the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values and we believe in their power to inspire and unite younger generations throughout the world. To be able to share this passion with the students is a huge honour," Alex said.
The programme will culminate with an in-person session on 24 February, when the Shibutanis, who won bronze at the Olympic Winter Games, will meet the students of Jinbu Middle School in person for the first time. The meeting will include a final lesson, a question and answer session with the students, a certificate ceremony, a photo shoot and media interviews.
"To be able to learn about Korean culture and connect with the children of PyeongChang is very special," Maia said. "We can't wait to get to know them and share what we learn with our Team USA team-mates, as well as share our experiences as Olympians and Team USA's excitement to be in PyeongChang."
The Canadian Olympic Committee ran a similar programme, connecting Olympians competing in Korea with pupils back in Canada. Its next chat is scheduled to take place on 22 February, at 12 p.m. EST, live from Canada Olympic House. Meanwhile, the Portuguese National Olympic Committee launched a challenge to schools to get their young students to learn about Olympic winter sports and send messages of support to Olympians competing in PyeongChang.