Polina Fomenko, the first-year student of the KFU Institute of International Relations, History and Oriental Studies, attended FIFA World Cup as a volunteer. She went to the Brazilian city of Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso, that hosted matches of H group, including those of the Russian team; and worked with media there. She came back to Kazan on June, 27.
Volunteers were hired in May, the key factor was Portuguese fluency and volunteering experience.
Here are Polina's impressions of this trip.
I receive a lot of questions (mostly from my Brazilian friends) if I liked Brazil and what I think about it as I was eager to go there for a long time. Of course, I have seen just one city, but having many friends from all parts of Brazil, I have made up my mind about the country.
Brazil is a very beautiful country; I knew that before I saw it with my own eyes. Again, I haven't seen a lot, but for instance, Chapada dos Gimaraes profoundly impressed me.
I have been told a lot of good things about Brazilian food. I've managed to try many traditional Brazilian dishes but to tell the truth I was disappointed. The exception was pao de queijo and brigadeiro, at some places they are tasty, at others not.
Do you know that “Ordem e progresso” (it is “order and progress”) is written on the Brazilian flag? I've made sure in progress (the country is rapidly developing; world sport events are held here; the economy is boosted, and tourist flow is growing) but they have real problems with order. I find the main treasure of Brazil in its people. These sunny people, smiling and kidding, are worrying for the soap operas' characters; they are dissatisfied with their state but crazily in love and proud of their great Motherland; that is why I would like to return to this wonderful warm country again and again.
On the very first day I had a lot to do at the information desk – to tell, to make a call, to go, to call, to bring, to ask for, to print, to repair, to meet, to translate, to show, to welcome, to make notes, to distribute, to take back, to explain… to explain once again in another language, etc..
There were so many volunteers from other countries, such as Great Britain, Malaysia, China, France, Canada. It is interesting that no foreign volunteers spoke Portuguese. Moreover, most of Brazilian volunteers do not speak English!
Services staff, volunteers, city dwellers, and all people are friendly, easy-going, cordial, and always ready to help and take in.
Day 2. Plenty of work again, we are always helping somebody at the information desk in all languages we speak and even do not speak.
Hot meals are provided for volunteers, it is almost a buffet lunch, but in miniature; it certainly includes a dessert at option, it may be an apple, or a tangerine, or any of Brazilian sweeties, too sweet for my liking. I appreciated that our coordinators had meals with us and did not differ from us very much, except for their uniform and a walkie-talkie. And they are incredibly friendly and always wonder if everything is ok, if we have had lunch, if we have had a good night, and so on.
Talking of a uniform, I have realized today that it is inconvenient that volunteers of all functions have the same uniform.
I have managed to slip to a game, just for 15 minutes. Guys, when you enter upon the stadium, and see all these stands, full of yelling painted fans, this giant green field, and REAL FOOTBALL PLAYERS in a distance of several metres from you – it's beyond words. There is such an ATMOSPHERE there…it's something never-ending!
Russia-Korea match day
Just for one day my coordinators decided to change my job so that I had a chance to watch the game of our national team. They said that each Brazilian dreams to see his national football players with his own eyes but unfortunately he does not always have a chance to do it; so they would like to give such a chance to me, and I am crazily grateful to them for that.
So, it took me one day to train for my new position, I was to help media at the media stand (there is the best view from there).
But at the match day my position was unexpectedly changed, and I have to assist photographers RIGHT ON THE FIELD. Just imagine, there are photographers sitting along the field border and my task is to watch them not to come to the field by any chance and not to get into the shot during the game, and if they need anything, to do it for them.
It was not a hard job in general, but it was a bit complicated to stand several hours in a row as we took part in the opening ceremony before the game. The Russian national team was training, warming up and playing within arm reach, it was incredible!
Guy, I watched football on TV, it is one thing. To witness a game is another one. But TO DO A GAME, BE A PART of World Cup, be at the field wearing a volunteer uniform, when the whole stadium is standing for the Russian anthem, and take endless pride for your country; be grateful to those who helped to make you dream come true; when your national team is singing the anthem right next to you; when this atmosphere and world energy is getting through you! It's beyond words!