Volunteers recount experiences at Olympic Games

Cai O’Connell and Gracie Gold

Cai O’Connell (left) with Olympic skater Gracie Gold.

Expanding perspectives in a shrinking world is the goal of the Global Learning Community program.

Inspired by a recent seminar on the history of international politics and the Olympics, the program will continue the conversation today at noon when it hosts “Sports, Sexuality and International Politics: Sochi 2014.”

The free public talk in 1-470 Daley Library features two Winter Olympic volunteers — 2013 graduate Brittany James and current student Cai O’Connell — who will share their behind-the-scenes accounts, speak to the political atmosphere surrounding the games and discuss how they turned volunteer opportunities into educational experiences.

James, who majored in Russian, was an intern with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. O’Connell, an Honors College junior majoring in Russian and political science, was an intern for NBC Universal’s hospitality guide program.

Issues related to the environment, human rights and Russia’s law on gay “propaganda” will be part of the discussion moderated by Colleen McQuillen, associate professor of Slavic and Baltic languages and literatures, who teaches a course on protest and counterculture in post-Soviet Russia.

The Global Learning Community program includes a weekly seminar on global topics related to class activities and events.

“The lecture series gets students involved in interesting and challenging conversations beyond the classroom,” said Jeff Gore, coordinator of the program.

The freshman initiative was launched in 2011 by Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, associate vice chancellor Bruce Neimeyer and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.