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Students expanding their horizons at international event

Two RAHS seniors visiting South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics

By Andrew Struthers

Cole Graham (left) and Harrison Jerome sit in one of Team Canada’s bobsleds before the start of the day’s races.
Photo Courtesy of: Cole Graham

Many students travel to learn about different communities, and some students are lucky enough to travel to different cities or states, but seniors Harrison Jerome and Cole Graham are traveling out of the country to visit an international event.

Graham and Jerome are visiting the 2018 Winter Olympics in mid February to watch the events and be a part of the cultural mix.

“We are seeing the bobsled two-man final, the women’s gold medal hockey game, curling round robin, speedskating long track, and freestyle skiing aerial,” said Graham. “We might try to see more events if we have the time. We chose to see these events because we have the most interest in these.”

Graham got the ability to take one friend to Korea as a Christmas present from his father. Although it was mainly a present for his son, the trip also has special meaning for Graham’s father.

“My dad was a bobsledder,” said Graham, “and since he is paying for the trip, we are going to see that too.”

Graham’s dad has a history of bobsledding and a special tie to the Olympics.

“He was a 2 time bobsledder in 1988 in Calgary and 1992 in Albertville, France,” said Graham, “and 1 time track in the Olympics. He competed in the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988. We are going to watch his event, although he will not be competing this time.”

Visiting a new country is an opportunity for Graham and Jerome to expand their cultural horizons.

“We are planning on trying exotic food, and visiting a lot of tourist attractions,” said Graham. “We are very excited to expand our horizons by visiting and learning as much about a different culture as we can. We are going to try to not be cold, and not be shot by the North Koreans.”

Taking part in this entirely new culture can seem a little daunting, at first, but Jerome is not too worried about the big change.

“I am a little bit nervous because of the culture shock,” said Jerome, “but it is something people get over really quickly.”

Since visiting South Korea is somewhat inherently dangerous due to its closeness to North Korea, the students and their families are both a little bit nervous.

“No, I am not worried,” said Graham. “My grandmother is freaking out and calling me every day, telling me to not go into the crowds, which is kind of hard to do, because it’s the Olympics. ”

Although Graham isn’t as worried, Jerome’s only worry is soothed by his belief that it is actually safer to visit Korea during the Olympics.

“Going to the Korean peninsula is inherently dangerous,” said Jerome, “but it is, in my opinion, worth the risk because it seems like this is the last time in a long time where it would be safe to go to South Korea.”

Jerome brings up a good point, being South Korea will most likely be more safe, and even the potential danger of North Korea will be diminished during the events.

“In my opinion, this is one of the safest times to go to South Korea,” said Jerome, “because not only is North Korea sending some of its athletes, and also China is sending its athletes. They would be putting themselves in a very unstrategic position if they attack South Korea. No one would take their side if they attack during the Olympics.”

Regardless of the safety concerns in South Korea, Jerome and Graham intend to push their luck even further, by getting as close to visiting North Korea as possible.

“We are going to visit the DMZ if it is open,” said Graham. “I would like to go into the UN negotiation rooms, which are legally in the Democratic Republic of North Korea.”

“We will look at the DMZ and see the guards,” said Jerome, “but we will remain on the South side of the border.”

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