Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Jamaican volunteer having ‘once in a lifetime’ experience

Published:Monday | August 8, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Jamaican volunteer for the Rio 2016 Olympics, Yashekia 'Shea' Powell, inside the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:

She spends much of her life travelling to every corner of the planet, but there's hardly a more exciting place to be than Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games.

That was the lure for Jamaican travel blogger, Yashekia 'Shea' Powell, who is in the Brazilian city as one of the more than 50,000 volunteers at the Rio 2016 Games.

Powell, 26, who is assigned to help with faulty tickets and seating problems, as well as language services as a fluent Spanish speaker, says her decision to give her time at the Games was in search of a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience, one she is anticipating here.

"I travel for a living, so I am always open to try new things, experience new things and in the meantime, giving back," said the 26-year-old travel blogger from Thompson Town in Clarendon. "I want to have an experience that will probably be a once in a lifetime."

Powell, who is making her second trip to Brazil, after a short stay two years ago, says her experience has been nothing but positive as she looks towards the rest of the Games and experiencing much more of the country.

"I've always heard really good things about Brazil and it's people, but also some really negative ones. Nothing but great experiences so far, and I'm hoping it will be like that for the rest of my time here," she said.

LOVE FOR JAMAICA

"The Brazilians get so excited and overjoyed when I'm being asked where am I from and I say, Jamaica. Their responses: "Ayyyy ... . Que muito legal!" (Oh, that's really cool!) Then I get dozens of questions after. Not to mention, how much they adore Usain Bolt and Bob Marley. They all want to visit. I love it!

"The people here are so friendly and accepting. A beautiful country, too. I can't complain. The last time I was here, it was only for four days. This time I will be here for a month. I am hoping to try the 'must-eat' foods, visit the countryside and spend a day or two with a local family. I have a few good Brazilian friends," Powell added.

She noted that despite the negative news surrounding the Games in its build-up, she was never particularly worried about travelling here, even if that was not always the case with her family.

"I have visited Brazil before, so coming here for Rio 2016 wasn't so... so nerve-racking for them. After all, they are now asking for gifts, so I think they are okay," she laughed. "I kind of had an idea what it would be like where the country itself is concerned. To be honest, I wasn't overly worried. I think my family was or is more worried than I am."

Powell, who writes about her experiences at www.theworldupcloser.com, says her trip to Brazil was sponsored and is not expecting to return home anytime soon, with a stop in Iceland also on her schedule.