Aug. 14, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Hi Nova Nation!
Following practice in People's Arena we all went back to the hotel and got ready for the banquet that was to be held in a well-known hotel about an hour away from our own. As we approached the hotel, swarms of people were lined up on the streets being held off by security officers. At first I thought their was some mistake, how can so many people with cameras want to see our American teams enter the hotel, but learned quickly that in China tall blonde pale skinned girls were rock stars and I fit those characteristics perfectly.
Once inside the building we were ushered to a large wall where everyone who was participating in the tournament was required to sign it. The signatures on the wall signified the start of the super volleyball tournament. Throughout the evening speeches were given by each coach and live entertainment kept the night interesting.
The food in itself was a surprise. Our western perspective of Chinese food is incorrect and what they served were many exotic dishes. The one that sticks out in my mind is a bowl of seashells that we would find on the beach, served as a delicacy with the live creature still living in them. The Chinese professional teams would flock this station, rip the live creature from its shell, dunk it in the sauce and be on their way. We were all rather taken aback by this encounter.
At the end of the night each team was brought to the stage to sing a song together showing ones love for the game of volleyball and as a way to show respect to those participating in the event. Our USA teams were confused and felt uncomfortable on stage singing a song we were not familiar with, but everyone around us was so excited that we joined right in and learned the cultural custom that occurs at the start of many athletic events in China.
So many people were involved in making us comfortable throughout the event. Each table had at least three waiters standing close by if you had any questions or needed anything. People stood near the door so when you left to make a phone call or even go to the restroom you had an accompaniment. They went above and beyond in their service and dedication to making the opening ceremonies in Tianjin an event that we Americans would always remember.
Until next time! -Carly