Russians will be remembered as frank and tactful after Sochi

Fireworks explode over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014.
Fireworks explode over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 23.
Credit: Getty Images

Editor’s note: The following piece is from the perspective of Metro World News reporter Alexey Shunaev.

The saddest day of the Olympic Games is the last one. To be honest, I did not expect to see so many gloomy faces hours before the Closing Ceremony. A few young women are crying. Even in McDonald’s, they are playing sad music.

I spend my last day at the Sochi Games meeting with volunteers from across the world to find out what they think about the Russian hospitality.

“Russians are really nice,” Ruifeng Guo from Beijing tells me. “The moment I will always remember happened on the Sochi Medals Plaza the day I arrived. It was draped with a big Chinese flag and some locals asked me to pose with them for a photograph; they said China and Russia are good friends forever. It was very sweet.”

Julien Gangon from Quebec, Canada, says the Russians he met are the best ambassadors for their country.

“They spoke of so many good things about Russia,” he said. “I learned, for example, that Russia still celebrates an ‘Old New Year,’ a New Year celebration according to an old calendar system, and that the day of the Closing Ceremony – February 23 – is a holiday called Defender of the Fatherland Day, something like ‘Men’s Day’ that doesn’t exist where I’m from.”

I am glad to learn that Russians’ bold frankness, a character trait of ours often misinterpreted as being offensive, was finally being understood – at least by Fernando Cole Vaughn from Los Angeles: “I love how Russians find a balance between straightforwardness and tact. I mean, there are people who speak their mind, and that’s not always good. Russians can say they don’t like you or what you’re doing. But they will do it in a way that you won’t take offense at all – they’re trying to help you out.”

“I was extremely surprised at how open Russians are,” David Boudeling from the Netherlands continues the theme. “Russians seem distant and non-talkative. Maybe it’s so if you see them from the outside. But from the inside, they are really open.”

“But sadly, not many Russians I met spoke English. It’s a pity because I found each of them to be so interesting,” he added.

All the volunteers I speak with say they hope to come back to Russia in a few years’ time to see how Sochi will have developed since the Olympics.

Boudeling continues: “Here I visited an exhibition on the different regions of Russia, and it really impressed me. Now I’m thinking of traveling around the country. I hope I will manage to do it.”


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