Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Olympics "Nation Houses"

Many of the countries that come to the Olympics set up a specific location to showcase important aspects of their country, such as their cuisine or tourism aspects. Although there were 30 different "Nation Houses", I only had the time and energy to visit a few of them. This collage shows me at the House of Switzerland, where they had a Lundt chocolate replica of the Olympic symbol---The Inukshuk. In their house, they had free samples of the famous cough drop made in Switzerland---- Ricola; (Ricola was also a familiar sound echoing throughout the hockey arena whenever a team from Switzerland was playing. It was sort of like the "hog call" for an Arkansas Razorback game.) They also had a full-service restaurant of traditional alpine foods, served in a setting complete with a roaring fire in the fireplace, and great views of the harbor outside the windows.

The Aboriginal exhibits helped visitors discover First Nations culture in Canada. If you watched the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics, you saw that Aboriginal traditions were highlighted through many of the costumes, dancing, and music.

All things French were highlighted in the Place de la Francophonie House. The French are famous for their dress designs, and they had one on display that was "bigger than life". It was actually a tent where little children could go inside and see a puppet show. One of the displays inside the big red building was about, what is jokingly called, "The Canadian Language Police". This is a Canadian government entity that assures the "other" official language in Canada is not neglected. Fortunately the government employee at the booth spoke English, as well as French, so she explained to me what her duties were. I was careful to say "Merci" after she enlightened me!

The Italian house also featured Italian fashions, as well as gorgeous displays of Italian art and design. They also had a representative there telling about the TRUE origin of what we call Parmesan cheese in the US. That is a "wheel" of the stuff I am holding in the upper left photo. Another Nation House I was able to visit was the Slovak house, but it consisted mostly of a restaurant-type set up, with huge TV screens so that Slovak fans in Vancouver could all gather at one place to cheer on their teams, while eating and drinking their favorite Slovak cuisine. Getting to see and read about the various "Nation Houses", of course, brought to my mind the Bible verse from Galatians 3:8b that says "All nations will be blessed through You." I felt God had indeed blessed me with this experience!
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