‘Olympics open doors to cultural understanding,’ piece penned by Prof. Michael Rector
Assistant Prof. and professional performer Michael Rector (Music) was in South Korea this week, with wife Sylvia Hong, performing in the host city of PyeongChang by invitation of the mayor. They had the opportunity to watch some of the Olympic festivities, including speed skating, and found themselves immersed in the excitement of the host city. He described his reflections for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Here’s a portion:
“But what impressed me most was joy in the building. We cheered for our home countries. We cheered for great performances. We cheered when the fallen Taiwanese skater finished the race. Of course we cheered the victor, Dutch speed-skating legend Ireen Wüst, one of many great sporting champions that flash across the sky every four years.
No American earned a medal, but basking in the happiness of our tulip-hatted neighbors felt like leaving with a win.
I still think my experience at Shin Saimdang’s house was important. My wife’s family is Korean-American. After fifteen years we still find little rough spots of conflict that I think have their roots in cultural difference. But maybe the joy in that stadium in Gangneung as we rooted on our national champions is like the gift or joke or kind gesture that soothes a family squabble.
Olympic competition is a win-win; let’s all just keep talking after the games are done.”