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Joanna Harvey's World Cup Volunteer Blog from Berlin, Germany

 Joanna Harvey here sending you warm greetings from Goettingen, Germany!

Over the next month, I hope to share with you the inside scoop on what it is like to be a 2006 FIFA World Cup Volunteer at the Olympia Stadion (Olympia Stadion = Olympic Stadium), in Berlin. Additionally, “Novice German Language” bits will be offered in parenthesises in this blog, which I will use interchangeably with the English terms. I share and receive information in a bilingual manner here in Germany, so this is how I will document the experience on the blog.

As far as my background in soccer goes, I would have to say it is fairly nonexistent. I may have watched two highschool matches in my entire life, but never had I watched one professional game of soccer prior to coming to Germany. I fell in love with the spirit of soccer and the fervour the soccer fans bring when I saw a Bundesliga match between Hamburger Sport Verein vs. 1. FC Köln.

Something I am particularly attracted to in soccer is its ability to unite individuals from all over the world. Due to this single passion, one billion people around the globe will be following the events of Germany the next few weeks. For the first time in my life I will have the opportunity to be surrounded by the impassioned fans from Brazil, Croatia, Sweden, Paraguay, Germany, Ecuador, Ukraine and Tunisia. This is all thanks to the games that are scheduled at the stadium. We will see what is to come for the quarterfinals and the final.

There was an extensive online application available for individuals to apply. More than 50,000 individuals applied and only 15,000 were selected. One in three are girls. I think what may have helped my attempt at getting a spot as a volunteer was my international background, my language abilities, and my expressed desire to be an active participant in the 2006 World Cup experience.

I found out I got chosen on Tuesday, May 30th, 2006. I was at the computer lab at the Georg-August University researching job opportunities back in the States. At the time, my planned return date was July 3rd to Winona Lake, Indiana for our annual 4th of July family celebration at the Harvey Cottage, and then on July 11th back to California. At 2:37 p.m. my cell phone started to ring with an unfamiliar number showing up on the screen. I was hesitant to pick it up because I was eager to continue my application submissions online. Then the thought crossed my mind that maybe an employer that I had submitted my resume to was calling in response to my application so I picked up my phone.

An exceptionally kind woman was on the other end of the phone informing me that she was the personnel of the volunteer manager of the German Organizing Committee. My heart practically jumped out of my chest. I mean ten days before the start of the World Cup one figures that everything has pretty much been signed, sealed, and delivered. Wrong! She was calling me to offer me the chance to work at the stadium in Berlin.

I had asked whether it would be a problem if I could until the 3rd of July because of the family meeting. She was very understanding and said, “That is not a problem. It is completely up to you whether you would like to stay and view the final.” It took forever for me to stutter out “I…I…ha…have the chance to see the final?” She laughed a bit and said that the chance was there if I was interested in taking it.

I still don’t think that I have grasped the full scope of what I am about to participate in.

Tomorrow, I will be going to Berlin. I still have to pick up my accreditation, which allows me access into the stadium, and the uniform all the volunteers get which, if I understand it correctly.

Tuesday is the first game I will be working at: Brazil vs. Croatia. I will get back to you and let you know how things go.

All the best,