Monday, August 25, 2008

Heading Home

So, here I sit in the Media Village passing the time until I leave. It's 1am here. 3 hours til I head out. It's pretty crazy to think about. I can't believe it's all over. Everything that I've been working towards as far as 4 years at Asbury goes is completed: Los Angeles Film Studies Center and the Olympics. Now, I am done with Asbury. Weird. Being here at the games was absolutely amazing. I really don't know how else to describe it. You had to have been here to really know what I'm feeling right now. Television does not do it justice. My advice to you is this: If you ever get a chance to go to the Olympic Games, GO!!

Highlights from the last day of work are: I ran into Vince Vaughn in the Silk Street Market, I worked closing ceremonies, and danced my feet off at the wrap party after closing ceremonies.

Tim, Megan, and I were on our way out of the market yesterday before we had to go to work, and out of nowhere, here comes Vince Vaughn down the escalator. Totally random! Tim spotted him, and then tried to play it cool and not approach him. I said to myself "Heck! This is a totally crazy opportunity to talk to Vince Vaughn. I'm going for it." So I did, and Megan followed. I said "Hey Vince!" and proceeded to shake his hand and ask him what he was up to and whatnot. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was working the broadcast of the Games. He said that was cool! Haha. The look on his face when we saw him and he saw us was "Oh shoot. Americans." We never asked for his pic or his autograph though, so hopefully he thought we were cool for that. Who knows? He looked like he was ready to get out of the market though. Understandable. I started to follow him down the next escalator because I wanted to continue our conversation, but Megan pulled me off of it because she didn't want him to feel like we were stalking him. Psh!! I didn't care. I wanted to talk to him more. Oh well. I laughed about it all day long as it continually crossed my mind out random it was that I met Vince Vaughn in a market in China. Especially since I spent 4 months in LA this year and never met an actor of his caliber.

Closing ceremony was pretty cool. It definitely was not as good as opening ceremony, but I still enjoyed it. I'm pumped about the London Games in 2012. I hope I can go. I'm going to at least try to apply for the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010. That would be sweet. After the closing ceremony ended, I spent the entire long walk back from the Bird's Nest to the IBC trying to find a volunteer worker to trade shirts with because I had been wanting one of their shirts since day one. After being turned down by like ten guys, I finally found an awesome guy named Journey (yes, that is his chosen English name. it's stinking awesome!) to trade with me. I gave him two JH Ranch tshirts and a pin because I was so happy that he wanted to trade. I told him he was my new best friend. In fact, I yelled it out loud so that all the passersby could here me. Haha. 

The wrap party at the IBC was intense. They had DJs and free drinks. I didn't drink, but I did dance the night away. It was a lot of fun. I said all my goodbyes to the producers, camera ops, and loggers. My goodbye to Hank was probably the hardest. He's my brother. I'll miss him. Maybe I'll move to Taiwan and work for him on his travel show. Anyway, I gotta finish of my last bit of packing and whatnot. I hope you all enjoyed my Olympic blog. I might post one more blog once I'm home, but after that, I will probably cease my blogging for a while. I'll do my best to let you know when I resume. Thanks for reading, and for you prayers and support. Love ya'll! God bless!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Fun Isn't Over

Sadly, things are winding down here in Beijing, but the fun isn't over. I'm still having a blast. Since my trip to the Wall, I've gotten to be a VIP at the Volkswagon showcase, see Steven Lopez win his quarterfinal Taekwondo match, eat a free meal at McDonald's, go out for dinner with Dr. Owens and friends, shop at the Olympics superstore, and get my pic with the USA Beach Volleyball Gold Medalists, Dalhausser and Rogers. There's a lot of little stuff inbetween, but those are the major highlights over the past few days.

The VW sponsorship day was great. Adam had nothing to do, so he tagged along and I think he's glad he did. Our contact at the VW showcase was Stephan (pronounced like 'steffen' not 'steven'). He's from Germany but speaks very good English. He's a really cool guy. We pretty much hung out with him all day. He got us VIP passes for the showcase, so we got to hang out for a couple hours in the VIP lounge. We got free drinks, food, and internet. We shot some crowd stuff, as well as some of the "higher-ups" at VW who were there. It was awesome.

The next day we went out to shoot McDonald's sponsorship. It took us an hour of walking in the rain to finally meet up with our contact from McD's because our producer couldn't just tell us to meet her at McD's or the Bird's Nest. Instead, we were supposed to meet her at some random parking lot, but she had no idea where it was and neither did we, so we ended up walking around the Green for an hour in the rain. Our ponchos were good for 5 minutes and then became useless. Anyway, we finally met up with our contact, Jackie. We followed a multi-cultural group of kids around and did some interview with them as well. The plus is that we got to go inside the Olympic Village and see athletes. Unfortunately, I didn't see anyone I recognized. There was one USA girl I saw that I was pretty sure was Lolo Jones, but I couldn't remember her first name exactly (I was thinking "Lulo") and I didn't want to look like an idiot by asking her for a picture and not knowing her name, so I froze and missed out. Oh well. That night, a good group of us (Asbury students) went out to eat with Dr. Owens at the Great Wall restaurant. It was really good. Then we did some shopping in that area, but I didn't buy anything. Wasn't in the bargaining mood because I was tired and my feet were still soaked from earlier. Good times. My shoes smell awful, but I'm wearing them on the plan anyway because they're the heaviest pair of shoes I have and I don't want to pack them.

Last night, Tim and I hit up the Olympic Superstore. It was crazy packed and overwhelming but we survived. The best part is that we had to wait in line to get inside. I'm happy with my results though. I think I've pretty much finished my shopping. Good deal. After that, we met up with some fellow Asburians and Dr. Owens and got a group picture on the Green. Chinese people kept jumping in with the group and getting their own pics. It was hilarious. We were like celebrities. I mean, I already get my pic taken randomly while I'm walking around by myself, and so do the others, so when you put us all together in one spot for a pic you can imagine what would happen.

The biggest highlight of yesterday though is definitely me and Marian getting our picture with Dalhausser and Rogers. If I hadn't waited behind for Marian to grab her bag while everyone else headed towards the Green, it would have never happened. Good thing I'm a good friend. She's the one the saw them too, so lucky me. They had their gold medals around their necks too.

Pics from all these events are posted in my gallery. Check em out:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Great Wall

I had the day off yesterday, and took the opportunity to go see the Great Wall. I left around 11, and it took me 3 hours to get there by subway, bus, and "taxi." The bus ride was the longest part of the trip. I went from its starting point to its end. One of the later stops on the trip, a guy at the stop saw me and rushed onto the bus and harrassed me about a Great Wall pamphlet. I'm guessing he wanted to take me there so he could make some money, but it made me nervous, and finally the bus lady kicked him off. When I got to the end of the line, another guy was at the bus door waiting for me. He said "Great Wall?," to which I answered, "Yes." He led me to his car (not an official taxi), and I was a bit nervous, but I rememberd that Marian had gone the day before and an older lady took her to the Wall in her own car too, so I figured it was all good. People just want to make money, and taking tourists to the Wall is a good way to do it. My driver turned out to be a really nice guy even though we couldn't really communicat well with one another. He waited for me while I hiked the Wall, and then took me back. It was a good deal.

The Wall was absolutely amazing. I was in awe of it. You can imagine it all you want, but you have to walk it to really know what it's like. My imagination ran wild as I thought about what it was like when it was first built and soldiers stood guard along it. Crazy stuff. I think it's the most amazing historical piece of architecture I have ever seen up close and personal. I went to the Mutianyu part of the wall which wasn't very crowded. I rode up a ski lift up to the Wall, and then went to the right which turned out to be the steepest part of my hike, but I could only go so far until I reached an overgrown part of it that visitors couldn't hike on, so I turned around and went back to where the lift was, and then headed up the other direction which wasn't as steep. It was more of a rolling sidewalk feel than the other direction which felt like the ultimate stairmaster. I spent about 2 hours on the Wall, and then headed down a little after 4pm. I could have spent a couple more hours hiking it, but I needed to get back. Plus, the Wall closes at 5pm. To get down you have to take a tobbagon (spelling?) on wheels down a metal chute. It was awesome! I posted pics from my Great Wall adventure, so check them out.

On the bus ride back, I met a couple from Dallas. Their names were John and Michelle (didn't catch the last name). I talked to John the entire trip back to our subway stop which really helped pass the time. They were both very nice. It was nice being able to speak with someone after a full day of not being able to communicate easily. I enjoyed the silence on the Wall though. It was some good focus time. I'd love to go back someday.

P.S. I met US swimmer, Aaron Piersol two days ago, and got my pic with him. Check it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One great night...

So, it's my first early morning, and it's not really that early compared to some of my friends' mornings here. I got into the office around 6:50 and no one is here, so I figured I would take time to blog it up.

Things are going great still. The biggest thing that's happened, as far as my experience here, since my last post is that I got to play in the fountains with some Chinese children. I'm aware that that may not seem to be a big deal compared to all that is going on around me. I mean, it's just the Olympics and all. But the other night, my crew was out and about on the Olympic green filming some crowds and whatnot, and the fountains outside the National Stadium came on. These are the kinds of fountains that come up from the sidewalk, and they are synchronized to music. Tons of kids started running and playing in them. We were done shooting for the most part, and Hank was just shooting some shots of the kids playing, so I decided to join in the fun. I got some pics and a few video clips of it all. It was just an amazing blessing to get to do that because I had been waiting for a chance to really connect with the people here in a real way, and it's hard when there is a language barrier and I'm busy working and all. Playing with the kids was a great way to break the barrier, and their laughter brought real joy to my night. I got to a race a girl through the fountains and back...3 times! And, of course, she beat me everytime. I also had a splash fight with this little boy that was hilarious. He wouldn't run through the fountains with me though. It was an amazing night to say the least.

Other than that, I saw USA beat Spain. We were shooting crowd shots (we're doing a lot of that right now). Nadal was sitting about 5 or 6 rows down from our ENG platform. Ada and I tried to take his picture, but he wouldn't turn around. A couple of my friends got to see Phelps win his 8th medal, which was sweet. I watched it on a big screen on the Olympic Green.

Some notable things in the past week have been seeing Nadal play, seeing the Williams sisters at a match I was covering, watching some awesome table tennis matches, and shooting in the Water Cube. Today, we're doing some sponsorship filming. I think we get to go to the Bird's Nest at some point. I'm excited about that.

Working here has been a great experience. Despite some of the 15-17 hour days I've pulled lately, and being really tired at times, I have loved every minute of being here. The people I work with are all wonderful. I hope I get to stay in touch with some of them, if not all.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. Both are much needed.

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rain, tennis, and swollen ankles...

That pretty much sums up the past 3 days. It didn't rain today however. It was actually a nice day. Hot in the sun, but a nice day still. It wasn't real humid, and we could actually see some blue in the sky. The past three days have been shooting tennis matches. The first day got rained out in the late afternoon which gave us enough time to make it to the USA vs. China basketball game which was sweet. The venue was packed. Yesterday was a full day of tennis. We worked around 15-16 hours. My crew was the last to leave around 1:00am and we only left then because the it started pouring on us. The match wasn't over yet. Today was another 15 hour day of tennis. It's like midnight here and i'm just getting ready to leave the IBC. Gaynor and I have a call time of 7:45am tomorrow for a full day of table tennis. We were the last two crews to leave tennis tonight, and we'll be the first crews to go out tomorrow. Fun stuff. Hank's not happy.

On top of ankles are swollen from so much standing and walking around. I have cankles! Haha.

Things to note: I saw Rafael Nadal play yesterday, as well as saw the Williams sisters watching another one of their teammates play.

Watching so much tennis has made me want to play really bad.

Sorry my post is kind of disoriented and scattered, but it's late and I'm beat. Hooray for long hours!

Until I post again...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let the Games Begin!!

Since the last post, I have found the market we looked for, and went shopping there a couple times. It was a lot of fun bargaining with the vendors. I spent 20 minutes trying to get away from a vendor lady who was trying to sell me a Peak Performance jacket that I didn't want. She started out at 520 RMB, and when I resisted her long enough that she went down to 130 RMB, I decided I would bargain with her, and offered it for 100 RMB. I got it for 110. Haha. Jeremy got some good video footage of that chaos. It's a nice jacket.

As far as work goes, I have yet to go into work any earlier than 9:30am (that changes tomorrow), which is completely different than what I expected. Work is great. I love the people I work with. We spent our first full day today shooting Archery. My crew (Hank and Ada) was in the "Blinds" (a box about halfway between the archers and the targets that sits off to the side and allows us to shoot the archers from a front angle). It was hot in there, but we survived. Hank taught me some Tai Chi while we were in there. We can take free classes at the Media Village, and if I have time, I may check it out. It's pretty cool. The few days ago, all the ENG crews went to the Tennis venue to check it out because we'll be working there tomorrow, and Roger Federer was practicing. We spent a good deal of time just hanging out in the seats close to the court watching him. I posted some pics from it on my picasaweb site. That was pretty darn cool.

Now let's talk Opening Ceremony...


To start it all off, none of our ENG crews were assigned to work the ceremony, so we were all bumming about it. The night before, we all get phone calls telling us to report to work at 4pm the next day (we were originally told to take the day off), so we all got excited. Jeremy, Adam, Tim, Matt, Marian, and I were the only ones that actually got to "work" the ceremony. The others had other assignments. I say "work" because we were technically working, but all we really did was sit and watch the whole thing. Also, Marian didn't actually work it. She got a ticket through a contact she had in the upper echelons of the Olympic broadcast. So, we were all pumped to be there, and thank God that we were because it was so awesome. I kept thinking about how blessed I was to be there. The performance moved me like no other performance in my life. It couldn't help but think about how around the world some of these countries are waring with one another, and here, for these 2-3 weeks, we are all united. The realization of that reality made the atmosphere in the Bird's Nest all the more bone-chilling. I was actually moved to the brink of tears during the "You and Me" song when the globe came out of the ground and the faces of children worldwide came onto the screens. I have a ton of respect for the ceremony's director. I feel like he unleashed every centimeter (they use the metric system here of course) of his artistic ability into that ceremony. An American opening ceremony could not top what I saw last night. China raised the bar for Opening Ceremonies in my opinion. The torch lighting was absolutely amazing as well. I still can't figure out how they got the torch into position during the parade. I wasn't paying attention. I predicted that it would be up there somewhere though. Hank didn't believe me. I also predicted that the torch bearer would fly up to the torch. Once again, Hank didn't believe me. I'm just that good.

Not to rub it in anyone's face or anything, but it is impossible to know what that ceremony was truly like without having actually been there in person. TV could not do that experience justice (I know because I watched some of it this morning). I say that just to let you all know just how stinking awesome of a ceremony it was. Absolutely amazing! Once in a lifetime, and I thank God so much for allowing me to be there, and not just there, but here at the Olympics in general. I can't get over how blessed I am to be here.

Well, I hope you all are doing well. I'll keep you updated on how the rest of sports shooting goes. Tomorrow, we've got a full day of shooting tennis, and then we're going to the USA vs. China basketball game later in the evening. I'm pumped about that.

Goodnight and God bless ya'll!

Monday, August 4, 2008

First Day of Work

While it was technically my first day of work, we didn't really work. It was more of an orientation day. We were told who are crews were and what we'd be doing. Each crew consists of a camera operator, a camera assistant (me), and a logger. My camera op's name is Lee Cheng Wei, but he goes by Hank. He named himself after Tom Hanks. When I told him that Tom Hanks was one of my favorite actors, he smiled and said "Life is like box of chocolates." It was funny. I like him. Our logger's name is Ada and she's a local Chinese student. I haven't gotten to know either of them very well yet, but they both seem really nice, and they speak pretty decent English which is nice.

We spent an hour or so in the morning getting a presentation on the new P2 HD cams from Panasonic that our camera operators would be using. It was pretty cool. A Japanese guy from Panasonic gave the presentation, and one of the Chinese guys was filming him with a Sony mini-dv cam, and another one of the camera operators looked at him and told him to get rid of the Sony because he might upset the Panasonic guy. He was joking of course. It was more funny in person I guess.

In the afternoon, we went over our assignments and whatnot. My crew is covering archery, tennis, and table tennis during the first week. I'm not real sure what we'll be doing the second week. We'll probably be sent out on random assignments. It's looking like I'll be work around 10-11 hour days and having enough time to still get to the markets and stuff in the evenings. Good deal.

We got done around 2:30pm and a group of us were going to go to the Great Wall, but found out it closes at 5pm and it would probably be useless to try and go at that time, so about 6 or 7 of us went to the Forbidden City instead, and then hit up a food court in one of the malls. After that, we proceeded to ride the subway around looking for a market that Jeremy and Tim had been to once, but failed to find it. Now, I'm just beat. We got some hilarious pics at the Forbidden City (which we saw very little of, so I may have to go back). I'll try to post them soon.

Again, the Chinese workers here are so darn helpful. I love it! They're great.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 1

I'm in China! That's crazy! Haha.

Anyway, the flights over went smoothly. I'm pretty sure I lost feeling in my butt at one point during the 13 hour flight though. As soon as I arrived the Olympic volunteers (locals) hounded me with assistance. It's been wonderful. Everywhere you go, they smile and greet you and genuinely want to assist you in any way possible. It's quite humbling. When I arrived at my apartment building, one of the bellboys grabbed my bag and showed me to my suite. When we were getting on the elevator, he let me go in first, and then asked "May I come in?" I was thrown off for a second, but quickly responded "Yes you may." Haha. I thought to myself "Of course you can! You have my bag." Anyway, he was very kind and showed me to my apartment suite. All the suites have 4 single bedrooms. The accommodations greatly exceeded my expectations. The bellboy asked me what time in the mornings it was okay to come clean my room, and how often they should do it. I had no idea, so I said 10am every 2 days, and, of course, I've only been here one night, and my room was clean when I got in this afternoon. It's amazing how well we are treated here. I feel like I should tip these people but they won't take it.

I don't start work until the morning of the 4th (tomorrow), so I spent today walking around and whatnot. A group of us (Asbury students/grads) went to church this morning at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship. It was pretty cool. Dr. Owens (Media Department Chair at Asbury) was there with his family, so it was good to see him. Afterwards, Adam, Jeremy, Nick, Tim and I went to the International Broadcast Center (IBC) to report in and pick up our uniforms. We got lost real easily. It was quite the experience. We laughed a ton today. I think we made our impression as the loud and jovial (yes, I used the word "jovial") Americans here in Beijing. We realized we were the only ones talking and laughing on the buses and subway. It was hilarious. At one point, we were all squished together on the bus and cracking up, and when the doors opened, a man took a picture of us...weird. After the IBC, we came back to the Media Village (where we live) and rested until dinner. Around 30 of us Asburians went out to eat with Dr. Owens and his family at a really good Italian place. We were there a while tellin stories and laughing (stupid loud Americans as usual).

On a sad note, my plan had been to go to the Great Wall today, but we spent so much time getting lost at the IBC that we ran out of time. My hope is that I will get a chance to go before I leave.

When we checked in at the IBC, our supervisor explained our jobs to us a bit more. I'm an ENG assist which basically means that I work as a handheld camera assistant along with a few others, and we go around and shoot footage for some events (not all). We will be covering a few events over the first week, and the second week we will be doing more of a documentary. Our supervisor told us that we wouldn't be working too late, and that things will slow down as the days roll on, which is much different than what we had expected after hearing horror stories from past Olympics. So, although we're aware that we'll still be working hard for long hours at certain points, we were relieved to hear that it won't be as crazy as it has been in the past.

Well, I'm beat, and I start work in the morning, so it's time to get to bed for me. I will update as often as I can.


PS The interpretor during the church service called Lebron James, "Lebarn." It was hilarious